BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Potential customers drop a few dollars to come in and take a look around at the Coliseum Boat and RV show. Once inside, dealers are hoping they will spend a lot more. The past few years have been anything but smooth sailing.
When people buy boats, they also need equipment. That's what Mark Oehmichen is hoping for. The signs look good so far.
"Well, I think it should improve. Sales, and I think fishing. Hopefully, we won't get any hurricane or oil spills," Oehmichen said. "Other than that, I'll think we'll do alright."
Even when they buy, customers are still looking to save money anyway they can. Emile Petro sells fuel efficient boats.
"The price of fuel, the way it keeps going up and down, I think a lot of people are looking at how much it costs them to entertain themselves, whether it's boating or whatever their hobby is," Petro said.
Since 2008, nobody really has spent anything on big ticket items and that may be starting to change. People may be starting to loosen up the purse strings a bit. And that has boat and RV dealers are feeling optimistic about 2012.
Drew Wilson is another boat retailer.
"I think it's just a pent-up demand. We've been in a recession since 2008," Wilson said. "People have wanted to make a change in the boat they owned, they just were not comfortable in doing so. A lot of time has passed. I think our customers are much more confident about the current economy."
Hitting the road in an RV is an acquired habit. People who sell them, like Adam Thompson, hope more join in.
"The people that do this, they're not going to change their lifestyle. It's the people that haven't quite yet," Thompson said. "And more and more people are coming and inquiring more, trying to see what a number would be so they can enjoy themselves. Life doesn't stop."
What also doesn't stop is the hope that 2012 will be a turnaround year in this highs stakes industry.
The boat and RV show runs through the weekend at the Coast Coliseum Convention Center in Biloxi.