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Are canoes selling?

Discussion in 'Open Forum' started by MGC, Aug 13, 2019.

  1. MGC

    MGC Scrapmaker

    Aside from a few fairly special boats, it seems like canoes on Craig's List, Ebay, the WCHA classifieds are moving pretty slowly these days. Some boats have been listed for many months and in some cases for over a year. I know of several that I watched last year that never sold...and the adds were pulled after months of listing. Some were re-listed and some were not.

    So what are you seeing? Am I wrong? Are boats selling? If not, what is keeping them from selling?
    • Is it pricing? I have seen some insane asking prices...certainly those canoes do not sell.
    • Is it the brand? Are folks not interested in run of the mill and holding out for "the good ones"?
    • Is it the color? There are a few restored boats at fair prices that seem to be stuck in limbo...wrong eyeball? What sells?
    • Does size matter? Are folks really homed in on 15, 16 footers and letting the bigger ones go?
    • Is it the correctness of the adds? Boats described as perfect that really are not...and the price based upon perfection? Or in one Ebay case, a canoe described as something it clearly is not...
    • Are there too many available and not enough buyers? I know that I don't get tempted very often anymore.
    I'm interested, curious, concerned...I'm thinking about selling a few boats and wondering if I should just hang on to them....
  2. Benson Gray

    Benson Gray Canoe History Enthusiast Staff Member

    I would suggest that you hang on to them since the current market seems grim. It is always bad in the late summer and fall but the overall market for antiques has been in decline for several years. Wooden canoes and other similar Adirondack style things were very fashionable in the late 1990s and early 2000s. The general interest appears to have been declining since then. If you really do need to sell some then price them reasonably and be willing to wait several years for the right buyers. Your mileage may vary...

    Last edited: Aug 13, 2019
  3. openboater

    openboater Curious about Wooden Canoes

    I’ve been noticing the same trend of slow /no sales also. Canoes stay for sale for an extended period of time. I think it’s a generational issue between my generation and my kids generation. 60 yr olds vs 30 yr olds.

    For the older generation, we downsized from 4 bedrooms and a 1200 sq ft workshop in central NY to 1 bedroom (camp) and a 12x22 shop during the summer and 1 bedroom and 7x18 shop in Florida over the winter. My 3 kids grew up on a lake and love paddling and swimming but are paying off school loans or trying to afford a modest house with insane price tags. No money for boats. I’ve set them up With inflatable kayaks so they can store them easily and get musti use out of them. At one time we had 21 canoes and kayaks at the house, now we are down to 6 spread over the 2 locations not counting the 4 ducky’s out west (the kids moved far away from NY state, no future here for them, and better skiing in Utah, Wyoming). Canoe transportation and storage is a huge issue. Roof racks, aftermarket or factory are as expensive as the canoe and useless compared to a set of Quick-n-easys with a couple of 2x4s clipped on the the rain gutters. Decent trailer cost $800 to $1100.
    It’s like cars, Model-T’s were my dad’s generation, now it’s Muscle cars and hot rods, but the drivers that know how to use a standard shift are dwindeling.........time to invest in old bicycles ?
    Anyway, I don’t see it getting better.

    Edited to add.
    And maybe the biggest and sneakiest change in the generations that effects canoeing, is the massive growth of school sports. Kids don’t go to summer camp to learn to paddle and love canoeing (and want to buy a canoe), they go to lacrosse , soccer, baseball, football, volleyball , etc etc camp. My family had to miss Memorial Day , Columbus Day and Labor Day camping/ paddling trips cause school sports had games those weekend .
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2019
  4. Dan Lindberg

    Dan Lindberg Ex Wood Hoarder

    I agree, I think the market dropped out back in 2009/10 and never recovered. I've been on a "reduce the herd" activity for the past 10 years, selling most of my collection. (most were projects). Most were sold at or under the price I bought them at, and I even gave away a couple just to have them gone. In total, I've passed on 24 canoes.

    But don't worry too much, I'm keeping 6:
    2001 Seliga 17'
    1958 Seliga 17'
    195x Rehbein 16'
    194x Thompson 16'
    195x Peterborough 16'
    19xx White closed gunwale 16' (this should be burned but....)

    and the Willits is still around.

  5. Gil Cramer

    Gil Cramer The wooden canoe Shop, Inc.

    Most people who can remember wooden canoes can 't lift them anymore. The 2008 housing crash affected almost all discretionary spending- including canoes and boats. I usually tell potential customers that the canoe will be worth about half of the restoration cost. I normally attend 2 boat shows a year and restore a canoe specifically for that purpose, intending to sell it at the 2nd boat show. It will probably sell in the $1500- $1800 range.
  6. OP

    MGC Scrapmaker

    So a few interesting responses...the most salient that I'm not alone in seeing this slowdown.
    What does that mean long term? Are we looking at the same sort of decline in interest that has killed off prices for colonial antiques? Some antiques are holding...the good stuff, art, high end glass, the work of the top shops.... but yes, current furniture prices make auctions the place to go to get kindling. It's a buyers market.
    I bought my first couple wooden canoes when I was 15 or of them is currently listed in the classifieds (nicely restored, not my work). I sold it a while ago because I had storage issues and it was low on my totem yes, storage is a problem, and not just for our kids. Both of my boys own canoes, rubber (Royalex) and WC. Their rubber boats can sit on the ground wherever they find space for them. Their wooden canoes have not made it to Vermont/Idaho (ski country to the nth) concerns. Wait until I croak and they find out how many I have squirrelled away. They'll need to unload more than the ones they know they are getting....maybe instead of scattering my ashes on Mud Pond Carry they can build a big fire somewhere...possibly float me down the Racquet below Piercefield....
    Yes Gil, you are spot on. I tell folks the same thing all the time. If you restore it yourself you might be able to buy, restore and end up close to the value. If you have one restored, unless it is something super special it going to be worth less than your sunk cost.... better tell that to some of the folks with boats for sale here.... WRT lifting them..good call...I will never take my 20 footer on another 2.5 mile carry..I don't think I could. Now I need help getting it on the truck.
    I have no problem ending up upside down on a canoe deal if it's a good that has historical interest to me, one that has value to others, but I never buy or restore to sell...I just want to be able to look at them on the water and paddle them.
    We grew up in a real spurt of canoe interest...the 60's, 70's were when many of us got hooked on paddling these boats...and as has been said, the paddle boards and kayaks have stepped into their place.
  7. Brly

    Brly Curious about Wooden Canoes

    I'm 34 years old and in the middle of my first WC canoe rebuild. I love this type of stuff and have been interested since I was a teenager. When I was in high school, my Dad, brother and I built two cedar strip sea kayaks together. I've built a couple flintlock muzzle loaders, stick bows, fly rods, mandolins, snowshoes, leather goods, etc. I call things like this functional art. Beautiful and useful. All things my Dad has done and continues to do. He has two WC canoes that have been in his barn the vast majority of my life waiting for time to rebuild.
    I have a 1951 Farmall Super A that I use regularly and cut my grass with a 1974 Wheel Horse B100 that was my Grandfather's. I daily drive a new F150, but have a 1966 Jeep J3600 truck that I drive when I'm not working on it.
    Now that I've typed this is seems a bit (a lot?) pretentious, but the point I'm trying to make is some of us just like this stuff, regardless of age. I'm drawn to old things, more specifically something old that I can make usable again and enjoy.
    In regards to buying/selling canoes, I paid $200 for the OT I'm working on. Needed new gunwales in and out, 8 or 10 ribs, planking and the rest. I didn't hesitate at the price. Looking at another one now for $400 that I would own already if I could get to it. I'm not interested in buying a restored canoe, I want to do the work!
    Just some rambling observations.
  8. Norm Hein

    Norm Hein Canoe Codger

    I think you have summed up how a lot of us feel and the reason we do what we do.
    By the way I am steeling your phrase " Functional Art" That says it all.
    Good luck with the build.
  9. crosscuts

    crosscuts LOVES Wooden Canoes

    Last canoe I offered was a restored 16' Canadian Canoe Company all wood. The buyer, a wine maker, gave me a case of very nice wine for a down payment. The balance was in cash and when he came to pick it up he presented me with another case of wine. Best deal for one of the many canoes I have restored.

    1905Gerrish likes this.
  10. 1905Gerrish

    1905Gerrish LOVES Wooden Canoes

    Certainly a buyers market I see. I also do believe prices have come down in the last 10 years. I need to thin a few out myself after picking up a couple more last week. Gonna try to part with a few " the good ones " Mike. I had no intention of selling them but I'm out of room. I managed to walk through a barn last week and the owner had about 30 W/C canoes to part with. I left with 2 on the roof having "pick of the litter". A wonderful courting canoe that I'm not sure who built and a early C.P. Nutting like mine still remain. Lots of OT's, Whites and other remain.
  11. Dave Wermuth

    Dave Wermuth Who hid my paddle?

    Same here. I tried to sell a couple at what I think are cheap prices. No takers. The heavier the canoe, the lighter the price. I've given some away. Donated one I restored to a nature center.
  12. Rob Stevens

    Rob Stevens Wooden Canoes are in the Blood

    Which brings us back to the old adage, "How do you make a million dollars building wooden canoes?". Answer; Start with two (million).
  13. chris pearson

    chris pearson Michigan Canoe Nut

    So true. People are "thinning the herd". Most are dumping the 18 footers and getting lighter ones. As for the collectables, seems interest has fallen off. As we get older, we want less crap as well. Kind of sad. Unless we sell cheap, we will hang onto them for some time. I posted the $7000 sailing canoe, and only think I'll sell it if a super collector sees it, not dreaming here. By the way, someone tried to do a scam job on me for it, be careful!!
  14. samb

    samb LOVES Wooden Canoes

    I sold my 1919 old town HW today for £770. I've not lost money on it, but it's a good job I don't charge for labour.
  15. Gil Cramer

    Gil Cramer The wooden canoe Shop, Inc.

    Hey Chris,
    I'll give you $10,000 in monopoly money for your sailing canoe if you give me back $2000 in cash. I'll even pick it up so you don't have to ship it.
    As ever,

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