If anyone expected the 58th Annual California RV Show, which ended Sunday after a 10-day run at Pomona’s Fairplex, to signal the sudden recovery of the beleaguered Southern California economy, they were probably sorely disappointed.
On the other hand, according to word on the street, the rain-plagued Pomona Show was in fact a “decent” retail event – despite the incessant and unusual rains – that included a higher percentage of buyers-versus-lookers than most had anticipated and may indeed have reflected the more gradual turnaround of Southern California.
“We did very well closing day,” Marsha McGinnis, western show director for the sponsoring Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA), said following the show’s Sunday evening close. “The sun finally came out, and our attendance was up 5.6% over last year for the full 10 days, 20,262 versus 19,194 last year. People came dressed (for the weather) and ready to buy.”
“And our sales were great,” she said of the 460,000-square-foot show at which 800 RVs from 43 manufacturers were displayed. “People were qualifying and buying for the whole 10 days. The closing weekend, even though we had rain and cold, people were here, buying and qualifying. We had a wonderful show. Dealers were exceedingly happy.”
Indeed, McGinnis’s comments generally struck a chord with dealers with whom we spoke, including Mike Lankford, general sales manager for McMahon’s RV, whose Irvine, Calif.-based store was showing Coachmen, Monaco, Winnebago, Pleasure-Way, Heartland and Eclipse brands in a large combined display.
“From the perspective of being in the show since 1994, as far as the weather you’d have thought that we were up in the Northwest, with the rain and the mist, the cold and the dreariness,” said Lankford, whose dealership also operates stores in Colton and Palm Desert. “But the people who came out were credit-worthy, savvy buyers looking for a deal, looking for people to earn their business. So, it was good to see those shoppers out there. We had pretty lofty expectations of doing 300 rigs. We fell a little bit short. But we were in the 200’s, and it was a great springboard for us.”
“The business was pretty much spread between 50-some-odd trailers and close to 40 fifth-wheels,” noted Lankford. “While our toyhauler business was down, our Class C (motorhome) business was pretty decent – right around 40. We actually did a pretty good job with (camper) vans with Pleasure-Way, and we did about 40 Class A’s and right around 30 diesels. That was good. So, all in all, we’re pleased.”
Lankford says McMahon’s actually views Pomona as a “tuneup” for the company’s own “huge” single-store Dodger Stadium Show in mid-November at which the retailer will show 250 to 300 RVs, including some of the 133 units it recently repurchased from troubled,Tucson-based Beaudry RV.
“We actually look at this as a tuneup for our Dodger Show,” he added. “We’re going back to Dodger Stadium with a huge show Nov. 12th to the 21st, and we actually look at this as a springboard for the Dodger Show. Actually it will be much bigger now than we felt Pomona would have been. So, we’ll take our 200-plus retails and swing into Dodger here in a couple of weeks and really get after it.”