In 2005, Billy Stallings sold upwards of 80 new hot tubs.
That same year he moved approximately 15 used spas — a nice supplement, but nowhere near his core business.
Today, the story is quite different. As of August, Stallings’ store had sold 35 used spas vs. just three new ones.
“I don’t even display new tubs in the showroom anymore,” said the president of The Spa Guy Inc. in Madison, Tenn. “Instead, I keep five used hot tubs there.”
As new spa sales decline, used hot tubs are becoming an increasingly important source of revenue, according to a growing number of retailers across the country. Much like the market for used cars, customers looking for pre-owned spas can get “more tub” for the money. And because the units typically don’t cost the dealer much to obtain, margins often are higher on resale.
More often than not, the used hot tubs are purchased from existing customers, as well as Internet sources such as Craig’s List and eBay. And trade-ins for new spas are common.
Jack Greene, owner of Orca Spa & Pool in Anacortes, Wash., noticed a significant jump in interest for used spas beginning in 2007. Today, he said he sells five times more used spas than new ones, totaling about $30,000 a year. As far as product age goes, he likes to stay within a limit of 15 years.
Interestingly, the more expensive models are better sellers for Greene, who said most of his customers buy pre-owned units in the $4,500 to $5,000 range.
“Maybe it’s because we’re in a niche market,” he said. “But those tubs generally sell the second they’re out there.”
Once they’re reconditioned and put through a wet test, the hot tubs then are displayed on the retailer’s Website, on the showroom floor or, in Greene’s case, outside the store.
Scott Clark sold eight pre-owned hot tubs over the Memorial Day weekend. The co-owner of The Spa & Sauna Co. in Reno, Nev., now averages sales of four used spas a month, he said.
His most popular models usually fall in the range of $2,000 to $2,500.
“That $1,999 seems to be the magic price point,” Clark said. “By units, it makes up about 20 percent of our business. But dollar-wise it’s our No. 1 selling item.”