Overall foot traffic may have been down from a year ago, but attendees at the Aug. 19-21 Midwest RV Super Show in downtown Elkhart were in a buying mood, according to event organizers.
“When the dealers left they, were happy,” Mark Bowersox, show director and executive director of the Recreation Vehicle Indiana Council (RVIC) that sponsored the 56-year-old consumer event, told RVBUSINESS.com. “Even though attendance was down – approximately 2,500 people compared to 4,000 last year – it sounded like sales were up for nearly every dealer.
“There was even a four- to five-hour stretch on Saturday where we had a steady rain. But people were still coming in, and they were looking for something to buy.”
It marked the second straight year that the show was held on Elkhart’s Civic Plaza. Bowersox said that 10 area dealers participated with around 150 units on display.
According to a report in the South Bend Tribune, the event got off to a strong start on Friday. The show was not even two hours old and Swardson’s Indiana RV Connection had already sold a unit.
Over at Great Lakes RV Center’s area, where its president Rob Reid had 39 units on hand, one unit also sold before noon, plus another two at one of his Elkhart showrooms. “The early part of the day, those people are maybe retired or took the day off to maybe come out and buy,” Reid said. “We like having these people right at the gate early on.”
The show is vital to his dealership, he said, noting the 20 units they sold there a year ago. “I have been in the show the last 10 years,” Reid said. “And that was the second best show we ever had. We sold 40 units in 2006.”
Bowersox noted that the event’s nomadic pattern in the past five years may have contributed to the drop in attendance. The show had a long run in South Bend on the campus of the University of Notre Dame before moving to the Elkhart County Fairgrounds in Goshen from 2006-2008. In 2009, RVIC canceled the show.
“There’s no doubt the fact that we have moved around and changed the dates has had an effect,” Bowersox said.
He said that organizers are hoping to return to Elkhart next year. The city provided funding in 2010, “just so we could get back on our feet after a year off,” but the show did not receive any financing this year.
“The fact that we were able to do the show without any help is a good sign,” said Bowersox.