HOUMA, La. - Louisiana powersports dealers who survived Hurricane Isaac are bracing for what may be even worse damage.
This weekend, the state will have a Second Amendment sales tax holiday designed primarily for guns, ammunition and other hunting gear, but which also applies to adult-model ATVs. This is the third year the state has offered it, just as hunting seasons begin.
“From a customer perspective [the storm] probably happened at the worst time. We’ve got a tax-free weekend coming up next weekend in Louisiana, and it will put a damper on that,” said Mark Bould, general manager at Friendly Powersports, which operates stores in Slidell and Baton Rouge. “We would usually sell 110, 120 units in two days. But with the storm, people are not focused on buying ATVs.”
Some dealers are already feeling that pinch. ““It hurt us because we are in the process of taking deposits right now and we lost a week of taking deposits,” said George Bordelon, salesperson at Performance Power Sports of Houma. “The ones who wanted something for the sales tax holiday will probably get it. The people that are not going to do it are the people that are still without power and the people that are still flooded.”
Though his store didn’t sustain any damage and even lent 10 vehicles to local search and rescue squads, Performance Suzuki of Houma owner John Soileau was also scrambling to keep up with preorders set for delivery this weekend.
“It screwed us up as far as parts getting delivered for people who ordered accessories for vehicles” to take delivery this weekend, Soileau said. Normally staff would have been taking orders for vehicles and accessories over the last week.
“I don’t think we are going to lose out on deals. But a dealer up north, if they were answering phones, they might have taken a sale from us,” Soileau said, noting the importance of the tax holiday. “We have a high goal to hit this month, and we have to do it in four days now instead of 14. We’re going to do 100 units. We overextend our floorplan almost $1 million to prepare for this.”
Others are optimistic. “You never know. A lot of times if people get their four-wheelers damaged, the insurance company will help them recover damages and they’ll come in to look at four-wheelers,” said Ellen Deidrich, marketing director at Cycle World of Houma. “We’re certainly hoping for the best. We had a strong weekend of sales last year because of [the tax holiday]. We’re hoping to do as well this year.”