Attendance was up 20-25% from previous years at Indiana’s 52nd annual Fort Wayne RV and Camping Show, which took place at the Memorial Coliseum Feb. 2-5.
The show featured nine RV dealers from around the state, with 150 brand new RVs for sale, along with representatives from 25 area campgrounds.
“It’s a buyers marketplace,” said show director Mark Bowersox, who also serves as executive director for the Indiana Manufactured Housing Association-Recreation Vehicle Indiana Council (IMHA-RVIC). “They can look at what they want and see what they like from one dealer. They can go across to the next dealer and compare models, and colors, and floor plans, and of course pricing, so it’s a great opportunity for people to come and buy.”
And the massive jump in attendance from last year’s show was particularly encouraging for Bowersox.
“That’s a good sign for the RV industry in particular, but also it’s a sign that the economy has stabilized and strengthened,” he said.
Unfortunately, the high number of people coming through the show didn’t translate into increased sales for one vendor.
Hank Schrock, owner of Total Value RV in Elkhart, said he had sold one RV during this year’s show, with another two going through financing. They usually sell six or seven RVs during the four-day show.
“This year’s slowed down a little bit,” said Schrock. “We expect more (sales), but we will get some residual from the show, people coming to the dealership.”
The following story comes courtesy of WANE-TV, Fort Wayne, Ind., and highlights the just-concluded the annual RV and camping show.
Thousands of people headed to the Memorial Coliseum in Fort Wayne, Ind., this weekend to daydream of camping and driving a new RV. But this year more people seemed ready to make the dream a reality.
Laura Kurtz, a salesperson for Sullivan RV in Decatur,Ind., said this year sales at the annual Fort Wayne RV and Camping Show were better than they have been in a long time.
“They are definitely buying,” she said of the crowd on Sunday. “We sold several here at the show that started Thursday.”
Michael Richardson from Waterloo, Ind., was just one of those people ready to upgrade his current pop-up camper. He said the prices we’re some of the best he’s ever seen.
“Last year or the year before we saw some of them (campers) up in the hundreds of thousands of dollars and these are down below a hundred thousand,” he said.
Jason Leupp, from Archbold, Ohio, agreed with Richardson. He and his family were getting ready to replace their old camper, too.
“Prices are excellent,” he said. “I mean they’re slashing $6,000 to $7,000 dollars off pretty quick. So it definitely gets you thinking.”
Kurtz said she had sold around 10 units in the four-day period, which is better than sales last year. She said she’s glad people are taking advantage of the low prices.
Leupp said the camper would actually help his family save money and give them a chance to spend time together.
“We find with three kids this is a little cheaper than going to a hotel,” Leupp explained. “You get to spend sometime together and we like to go to the race track, so it’s kind of nice.”
Kurtz said while the weekend snow storm stopped some browsers from coming out to the Coliseum, it made it easier for the serious buyers to get around and find what they wanted.
If business at The RV Center in Columbia City, Ind., is any indication, this year’s Fort Wayne RV and Camping Show should be successful for dealers and consumers, the Fort Wayne News-Sentinel reported.
Why, you ask?
“Consumer confidence,” says Ron Sleeper, owner of The RV Center. “People are feeling a little bit more comfortable.”
Sales dropped in 2008 and 2009, but Sleeper saw an increase in 2010 and he expects another increase in sales this year. He expects over the next two to three years to get back to 2007 sales.
“There’s a lot of positive indicators out there,” he said. “We’ve had a lot of attention paid to our industry (such as) when the president of the United States goes to Elkhart, Ind., to show his support in the RV industry.”
The RV Center will be one of the vendors at the Fort Wayne RV and Camping Show which opens Thursday (Feb. 3) and runs through Sunday at the Memorial Coliseum.
Sleeper’s company sells everything from popup campers costing $5,500 to $12,000 to motor homes ranging from $50,000 to $110,000. In between, travel trailers range from $12,000 to $35,000. Park models sell from $20,000 to $60,000. They’re big enough they have to be delivered by a commercial carrier to their destination.
Higher gas prices have impacted people’s RV choices, Sleeper said, with some choosing smaller models. Manufacturers have responded to the desire for more fuel-efficient products by “basically building smaller units, yet trying to give them all the amenities.”
Many now come with LCD televisions, comfy recliners, improved water filtration systems and slide-outs for added living space. Many manufacturers are going to aluminum construction for longevity instead of wood.
Manufacturers also are emphasizing green building by using more composite components and modifying design.
Sleeper believes people are camping closer to home, perhaps because of gas prices. Those who invest in a park model only have to drive their car to their destination — no costly RV towing.
He likes taking his motorhome up to the Angola area or to Turkey Run State Park in the western part of the state.
Although the initial outlay in money is salty, Sleeper believes any RV is a good investment.
“I’ve always challenged everybody, once you make the initial purchase of an RV, it is the least expensive thing, in my opinion, you can do with your family to enjoy a weekend.