This has been one of the toughest years ever for RV dealers.
But Swenson RV in La Feria, Texas, is surviving, thanks in part to its diversified product offering, which includes the “Little Hero,” a new line of affordable park models manufactured at Cavco Home’s plant in Seguin, Texas, according to a news release.
“Consumer demand for the product is very strong,” said John Crouch, manager of Swenson RV, which started carrying the “Little Hero” in January. “It’s a price-conscious person’s park model. It’s what our average Winter Texan is looking for.”
Unlike manufactured homes, which are a form of low-cost, permanent housing, recreational park trailers or “park models” are 400-square-foot movable resort cottages that are designed exclusively for part-time recreational use.
Widely used in RV parks throughout the Rio Grande Valley and other winter destinations across the Sunbelt, park models are the product of choice for empty nesters and retirees who are looking for an affordable winter vacation cottage.
“We got into the park model business four years ago because we saw the writing on the wall,” Crouch said. “We the saw that the average age of our customer was getting older. We also recognized that it can be more affordable and more comfortable to spend the winter in a park model than in towable RV or motorhome.”
Owners of towable or motorized RVs typically pay $1,200 or more to park their rigs in Rio Grande Valley RV parks during the peak winter season, while park model owners generally pay about $2,200 to leave their park model onsite for the whole year.
“So what happens is park model owners tend to spend five or six months instead of two or three,” Crouch said.
But while park models have been around for many years, the “Little Hero,” is more affordable than most, with retail prices averaging around $25,000 range. The “Little Hero” features 8-foot sidewalls with ½-inch sheetrock interiors, cathedral ceilings, high-end appliances and vinyl siding.
“People are looking at these and looking at $50,000 trailers and are realizing how affordable they are,” said Christine Summers, a zone manager for park model sales for Cavco Homes in Seguin, adding that the company is expanding its dealer base in Texas and across the Sunbelt an effort to gear up for the coming winter season.
“I’m taking seven to nine calls a day from dealers who are interested in carrying these units,” Summers said. Newest dealers for the “Little Hero” include The RV Shack in Livingston, South Main RV Park in Houston, Wholesale Homes in Fredericksburg and Affordable Homes in Lytle.
Summers added that there is plenty of room for park model growth in Rio Grande parks. Some bed-and-breakfast inns are also exploring the idea of using them as guest cottages, she said.
For more information on the “Little Hero” and other Cavco park models, call Summers at (830) 379-4485 or visit www.cavcohomes.com/littlehero/default.asp.