WORTHINGTON, Minn. — It’s July, and that usually means it’s time to play outside across the upper Midwest.
This year, however, seems to be a bit of a different story.
“We have one left of our Sea-Doo personal watercraft, and normally this time of year we still have a dozen,” said James Brooks, a salesman at Jaycox Powersports in Worthington. “I did some checking, and we’ve sold 50 side-by-sides (UTV) — that’s definitely more than normal for this time of year. There’s been a nationwide shortage in inventory; that’s the main thing.”
“People are definitely wanting to play,” added Kristin Jaycox, parts manager at the business. “It’s hard to speculate exactly why. You can social distance more because you’re outside, and also maybe it’s just a mentality of ‘Hey, we can go outside and do something.’”
Jaycox noted that last year, Jaycox Powersports sold four sports performance side-by-side vehicles. The business carries the Can-Am line.
“This year, we’ve sold 12,” she said. “Those are $25,000 machines.”
The UTVs at Jaycox aren’t exclusively purchased for recreational purposes, salesman Mark Grafing said. Some are used for rock picking; others are used in planting crops.
Grafing, though, definitely thinks there’s a link between the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the healthy sales trends.
“With the coronavirus, it’s like, ‘We’ve got to get outside and live!’” he said.
Jaycox also noted that the business has sold plenty of Sea-Doo towables (“tubes”), too, as people are beginning to spend an increased amount of time on Worthington’s Lake Okabena. And while Jaycox doesn’t offer wakeboards or waterskis, “I see a lot of people on the lake that have them.”
Those on the lake, of course, should be sure to have life vests, and Jaycox Powersports has sold plenty of them in recent weeks, too. A big boost in particular came from the Lake Okabena Improvement Association and the city of Worthington, which teamed up to purchase dozens of life vests for The Beach Nook’s new watercraft rental program.
All in all, compared to some other Worthington businesses during the past several weeks, Jaycox Powersports is faring quite well.
“We’ve had people coming in from all over,” Grafing said. “We’ve had someone from Wisconsin, we had a gal from Michigan who came in the other day … and we actually had someone from Montana, too.
“With our inventory, I’d ordered extra — I just had a feeling we were going to need it.”
“There have been some challenges and we’ve had to be creative and reach out to different places, different states,” Jaycox said. “What we’re selling is definitely not just all machines on Lake Okabena. There’s a lot of online people shopping from around the world.”