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Northland boat industries hit big shortage wave

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DULUTH, MN -- Post pandemic shortages are becoming a big issue for most areas as things creep back toward normal.

One big ticket item being boats.

Eric Thomas with Barkers Island Marina has seen it first hand.

"Boat sales have been on fire over the last year," said Thomas.

Thomas works with a brokerage to buy and sell all kinds of boats, from small pontoons to 50-foot yachts.

He said he is fortunate to mainly work with used boats since the inventory for new ones is so low.

"It's nice to see in brokerage people are seeing the market's good so people are changing their boats out, so we still have things to sell," said Thomas.

RJ's Sport and Cycle in Duluth mainly sell new boats and their showroom which is normally full of boats is nearly empty.

Only four boats sit in the more than 4,000 square foot showroom, three of which are already sold.

"I'd say it started at this same time last year," said Bianchi.

When people couldn't travel during the pandemic, they started seeking vacation ideas in the land of 10,000 lakes, and boats became a must-have.

"The factories are only building so many boats, and they are tailored to build the boats for the normal demand, and with all the new boat owners, they can't keep up at the moment," said Bianchi.

Bianchi also blames this winter's extreme cold snap in Texas where many of the boats are built.

He said this shortage isn't only in the Northland, he's had people traveling thousands of miles to buy a boat.

"I sold a boat to a woman from Bozeman Montana, we've had people Chicago, Iowa, and Michigan. People are coming from all over to find the needle in the haystack," said Bianchi.

According to RJ's Sport and Cycle, they have not raised their prices.

They say if you are looking for a new boat they are backed up with orders through this fall.

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Meteorologist Alex Libby

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