There were multiple tents selling hot tubs at the Oregon State Fair. (Saphara Harrell/Salem Reporter)
There’s an old saying about a person who’s such a good salesperson, they could sell ice to Antarctica.
But what about selling a hot tub on a 96-degree day?
At the Oregon State Fair, past the carnival rides, funnel cakes, and barn animals exists a bazaar with shoppers who have been prepping for a spree.
There are sunglasses, flags, gun vaults, massage chairs, and scooters lined up under tents in the hot sun.
Inside, infomercials are performed in real time with specialty cookware, towels and gadgets.
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“Even though it's hot and it's warm out, most people are coming here looking to buy,” said Chris Welch, a store manager at Emerald Outdoor Living.
He said buying a hot tub isn’t an impulse decision and people plan for the purchase well in advance.
That was certainly the case for Donna and Scott Satterlee, who have been talking about buying a hot tub for close to a decade.
In 2012, they installed a line at their house that would run out to the site of the future hot tub after they had gotten rid of an old one that leaked.
Donna said the hot tub purchase wasn’t at the top of her mind when she got to the fair, but that it saved her from driving store to store on the holiday weekend. The couple lives outside Portland and said they’ve been waiting for the right time to buy.
They’ve even gone to the Portland Expo Center and brought swimsuits to the convention center test the waters.
One of the priorities for Donna was a tub without a reclining seat, so she wouldn’t float away while soaking.
On Saturday the couple bought a new tub from one of the handful of hot tub vendors at the fair.
Hot tub competition was heavily concentrated.
Welch said it used to be worse years ago when there was a “spa alley” with every vendor lined up in a row.
“Back in the day it was a lot more brutal,” he said.
Now the hot tubs are stationed near wood stoves, political tents or tarot card readers. People can buy jewelry, pieces of wood with their name carved in it, or get their picture made in an old-timey photo booth.
Michael Alston, a salesman at Aqua Firm, said most hot tub buyers have done some research and come to the fair to get deals.
He said whoever has the most compelling story and best-looking hot tub will get the sale.
Alston’s tent drew in Erin Corella and her husband.
The couple said they used to have a hot tub but have done without since buying a home in 2006.
“You always want one again,” Corella said.
For them, buying another tub was a matter of timing. They’re remodeling their home and their kids have gotten older, so they thought they would strike while the iron, and the weather, is hot.
Have a tip? Contact reporter Saphara Harrell at 503-549-6250 or firstname.lastname@example.org.