Lake reels in dollars for Cobb county
by Jennifer Hafer
July 01, 2013 12:05 AM | 688 views | 0 0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
It's Christmas in July for the proprietors of Holiday Harbor Marina and Holiday Harbor Boat Sales on Lake Allatoona. Though the season got off to a slow start with a cold, rainy spring, business is picking up.

"Summertime is my Christmas," Holiday Harbor Marina owner Eric Williams said with a laugh. "We do 70 to 80 percent of our business in the summer time, starting in April/May and running through September/October."

Offering items such as gas, floats, inflatables, wake boards, sodas and chips, the marina also has boat, cabin and campground rentals. As of mid-June, many weekends for the $150-a-night cabin rentals were already booked.

"We're looking to do on the boat rentals somewhere in the $600,000 range this year," Williams said. "There were four years that were a slow period for us, but things picked up significantly last year."

Covering more than 12,000 acres at full pool, Lake Allatoona boasts 270 miles of shoreline across three counties. The lake and much of the land that surrounds it are managed by the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers.

According to Jerry Fulton, Allatoona Lake operations project manager, the lake averages 6.5 million visitors each year, resulting in an economic impact of $242 million and 2,138 jobs in Bartow, Cobb and Cherokee counties in the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 2012.

"The economic impact represents money spent on groceries, fuel, boats, equipment for camping, things like that," Fulton said. "A majority of the visitation to the lake occurs from May to July, but some people recreate year round."

As the temperatures rise, so do the sales at Holiday Harbor Boat Sales.

"My biggest problem last year, and will be this year, is running out of boats," said Mark Cochran, co-owner of Holiday Harbor Boat Sales. "I expect to be out of boats by the Fourth of July."

Citing the scarcity of "good, clean used boats," Cochran said boats in the $12,000 to $30,000 range are the "hot market" right now.

"These boats are selling like hot cakes," he said. "As fast as I can get them, they're selling out."

While those prices may seem inflated in the wake of the Great Recession, Cochran said it's simple supply and demand economics.

"Since 2008, boat manufacturers have been cutting production, so there's not a lot of used boats out there," he said. "There is a three-year turnaround with typical boat ownership. In three years an owner will either change boats or get out of boating."

Eight out of 10 boats sold are used, according to Cochran, but it's not just used boats that are selling. New pontoon boats are popular as well.

"We're a small mom-and-pop dealership, but we're hoping to do $1.75 million to $2 million in sales this year," he said.

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