For the next four days, DeVos Place in Grand Rapids. Mich., will be a village of aluminum and fiberglass motor homes, trailers and recreational vehicles lined with streets of red carpeting.
According to a report in the Grand Rapids Press, the Grand Rapids Camper, Travel and RV Show has some 300 units on the convention center floor. The show opened at 3 p.m. today and will run through Sunday evening.
Inside, visitors can expect to find all the amenities they left behind at home – flat-screen TVs, leather lounge chairs, fire places, coriander counter tops, bathrooms with showers and of course, lots of beds and bunks on which to sleep.
By the time they wheel their units off the floor Sunday night, dealers are hoping many of them will have new owners. Unlike the Michigan International Auto Show last weekend, this show focuses on making a sale.
“This is not just a show, this is actually a sale,” says Bruce Ter Veen, sales manager for General RV Center in Wayland. “This is where we start our season as a dealer body.”
Most of the dealers are hoping this year’s show will bear out their hopes that the economy is on the rebound and consumers can afford to splurge on their families again.
“So far, the shows we’ve been seeing are up 20% to 30%,” said Ter Veen, one of 10 General RV Center dealers in the U.S. “This show is an indicator when the economy starts growing and gaining momentum.”
‘This is the best time to buy because they’re all under one roof,” said Ter Veen has 67 units on the floor, ranging from lightweight trailers designed for towing behind an SUV to the Tiffin Phaeton 40QBH, which has a special show price of $216,995, down from its list price of $275,009.
The Tiffin Phaeton is a 40-foot diesel-powered behemoth that includes 1 ½ baths, a stacked washer/dryer, leather recliners, king-sized bed and a 37-inch television. It features four slideouts to expand its interior space when parked.
While the big units are staples of the industry, the growth in sales are among ultra-light trailers which can be towed by an SUV but are large enough to accommodate an entire family, Ter Veen said. The ultra-lights allow families to camp comfortably without upgrading their everyday transportation, he said.
For consumers who don’t yearn for the open road, there are the “park models” that look more like houses, complete with shutters, fireplaces, and second floor lofts for the kids.
“They’re like a little cabin,” said Show Manager Carolyn Alt. While most of the trailers and RVs are designed for the open road, the park models are towed to campgrounds for the season or in some cases, years.
Antique folding camping trailers and luxurious motorhomes are just part of the lineup that will be on display when the 4th Annual Grand Rapids Camper, Travel and RV Show opens Thursday (Jan. 14) at DeVos Place in Grand Rapids, Mich.
The popular event, which drew 15,000 people last year, will have 250 models on display shown by 13 West Michigan RV dealers, according to Grand Rapids Press.
“We’re going to have a little broader range of models this year,” said show manager Mike Wilberham of Showspan Inc. “Winnebago is showing something that blurs the line between Class A motorhomes and van campers. It looks like a Class A, but it’s smaller, more like 23 feet rather than 45 feet. And many of the dealers are showing units that are being designed to be lighter and more fuel conscious.”
A restored 1927 Auto Kamp Trailer will be on display at the Grand Rapids show.
The event is one of the two gateway shows for Michigan’s almost four-month-long outdoors show season. The other, the Ultimate Fishing Show, opened Friday and closes today in Novi at Rock Financial Showplace.
In all, there are 16 major shows statewide through April. Those include shows that appeal to RV users, anglers, hunters, boaters and paddlers along with specialty shows that cater to fly tiers or traditional archery enthusiasts.