Alpin Haus is opening its third RV store, this one in Port Jervis in western Orange County, N.Y.
According to a report in The Business Review, Albany, the Amsterdam-based chain of RV and ski stores operates RV dealership in Amsterdam and Wilton, and ski and outdoor activities stores in Amsterdam and Clifton Park.
Andy Heck, president of Alpin Haus, said the family-owned retailer began exploring a downstate expansion four or five years ago.
“This opportunity came along, and the time was right,” Heck said.
He said the Port Jervis area is a popular destination for campers, making it an ideal location for an RV dealership.
Alpin Haus expects to open the Port Jervis store in March. It will hire 20 people to staff the location.
During the winter, sales at Alpin Haus, an RV dealership in Amsterdam, N.Y., were somewhat stagnant, but when April came it was “like a switch went on again,” says President Andy Heck.
Still, Heck said the news this spring is both good and bad, according to The Leader-Herald, Gloversville.
“It’s kind of a mixed bag,” he said, noting Alpin Haus is slowly transitioning into its “true summer season.”
Alpin Haus, which last year was selected as one of the top 50 recreation vehicle dealers in America by RV Business magazine, sells many other types of big ticket items.
“April has been very good for RVs, boats and pools,” Heck said. “It’s actually pacing better than the past. It’s definitely a lot more dollars (being spent).”
Heck said towable vehicles are “going great,” but sales of motorhomes are lagging.
He said he believes people are buying more boats, pools and towable RVs with the intention to stay in the region. But he said sales of motorhomes, in which people tend to travel long distances away from home, aren’t doing as well.
“That still has been challenging,” Heck said. “There’s still a little buyer’s uncertainty.”
He’s hoping that “switch” stays on for a long time.
“People think maybe we’re better off in the economy and things are starting to pick up again, maybe,” Heck said.
Dougie Aguilera, a sales consultant at Brown’s Ford in nearby Johnstown, said the consumer’s shopping habits can be volatile.
“I think it’s like a rollercoaster,” he said.
Aguilera said he believes what triggered the nation’s economic decline wasn’t necessarily an uncertain housing market, but the $4.25 per gallon gas prices last summer.
He said his dealership found then that people didn’t want to purchase the SUVs, pickup and work trucks that are needed for this area.
“People held off and were scared,” he said.
But now that gas prices are about half what they were in 2008, he said things are “picking up” at Brown’s Ford.
“I think people put things on hold,” Aguilera said.
Sales of the four-wheel drive trucks that are so important to the area are on the rise again, he said.
“In the last several months, there’s been a renewed demand,” Aguilera said.
Sales tax revenues in Fulton County — where Amsterdam and Johnstown are located — jumped by about $228,000 for the first quarter of the year from a year ago, so people are apparently starting to spend more money locally on consumer goods. The city of Johnstown, realized a $164,862 increase for the first quarter from the same period a year ago.
The Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association (RVDA) contends that its hands are tied with regard to the issue of RV manufacturers being forced — under various circumstances — to buy back product from dealers.
So the national trade association, based in Fairfax, Va., isn’t taking a concrete stand one way or the other in what is becoming a major issues within the RV industry.
”We are a national dealers association made up of dealers from many states,” said RVDA Chairman Larry Troutt, owner of Toppers Camping Center in Waller, Texas, in a Q&A session with RVBusiness due for publication next month. ”It’s not our position to take a position on what the states do.”
In a March 9 letter to RVDA President Mike Molino, Richard Coon, president of the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA), asked RVDA to support amending or defeating ”buy back” legislation pending in 17 states, warning that RV manufacturers and dealers alike could be put out of business by the slew of legislation.
However, Molino immediately dismissed the request and has continued to do so as recently as a meeting held this week.
At issue are what RVIA characterizes as onerous provisions requiring inventory, in some cases regardless of age, to be repurchased by manufacturers ”with or without cause,” along with ”blue sky” requirements that would mandate manufacturers to compensate dealers for the value of their businesses and ”facilities assistance” for up to three years.
”The dealers in the different states will take initiatives (that) we will support, possibly reinforce, at their request,” Troutt told RVBusiness. ”But we do not think it is appropriate to take initiatives as a national dealer organization that would cause dealers in different states to have to abide by some ‘law’ that they didn’t initiate or address themselves within their states. It’s a state’s rights thing.
”I’m not aware of any (dealer) who disagrees with that.”
RVDA Treasurer Andy Heck, president of Alpin Haus, Amsterdam, N.Y., said coordinating state laws would be too large a task for RVDA to muster.
”Each state has different laws,” Heck said. ”(Buy back laws) just happen to be one of them. For RVDA to get involved at the state level would be a gigantic task.”
Debbie Brunoforte, RVDA 1st vice chairman and owner of Little Dealer, Little Prices in Mesa, Ariz., said dealers are ”reasonable (and) fair-minded” and that manufacturers should communicate directly with dealers about state laws that concern them.
”The difference between RVIA and RVDA is that most of the manufacturers are in Indiana and a couple of other places,” Brunoforte said. ”Yet, (RVs) are retailed throughout the entire country. So RVIA has to have a more political view and I understand that. At RVDA, we have dealers in every single state, and we’ve always felt that dealers in a particular state should choose how they want to do business.”