Canoe sales in 1924

Benson Gray

Canoe History Enthusiast
Staff member
I recently tripped over in interesting reference in the annual corporate report for 1924 by Sam Gray to the three other members of the Old Town Canoe Company's board of directors as shown in the attached image below. It appears that canoes sales suddenly dropped by one third in 1924 compared to the previous year after a very steady and continuous sales growth progression following the end of World War I. This was "chiefly attributed to the tremendous gain in the use of automobiles. ... We feel that the situation this created is but temporary and in the nature of a craze. It may last a few years but it is hard to believe it will continue long for that would mean the relinquishment of our delightful lakes and water ways for the dust and rush of highway travel." He probably recognized that automobiles in general were not just a passing craze but he was clearly hoping that the buying public would not completely abandon canoes for cars as a recreational pursuit. It is also interesting to note that he had acknowledged the popularity of cars by including them on the catalog covers in 1924 and 1925 as shown at http://www.wcha.org/catalogs/old-town/covers/large-24.gif and http://www.wcha.org/catalogs/old-town/covers/large-25.gif on the web.

The automotive industry actually had a tough year in 1924 also. The book A Brief History of The First 100 Years of the Automobile Industry in the United States" by Richard A. Wright is reproduced at http://www.theautochannel.com/mania/industry.orig/history/chap6.html and says that "In 1924, the anticipated spring upsurge in sales did not materialize. ... GM sales in 1924 were way off from the preceding year ... The recession of 1924 put severe financial pressure on Oakland Motor Car Co. ... If any year had to be picked as the dividing line between the old auto industry and the modern, 1924 is a likely candidate."

Another irony is that Sam wrote about how "The lessened business and other causes necessitated our relinquishing the services of Ora Bowley who had been with us since 1904. The last ten years as Asst. Supt. and of Ralph Brown who had been with us since 1919 as mechanical and designing engineer." Ralph Brown went on to run Penn Yan for many years.

Benson
 

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Interesting Benson,

Though I wonder about how correct he was as to the cause of the downturn in sales.

Per the other reference, "In 1924, the anticipated spring upsurge in sales did not materialize. ... GM sales in 1924 were way off from the preceding year ... The recession of 1924...."

Seems the auto companies were having a hard time too.

Dan
 
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