By Cindy O. Herman
For The Daily Item
Who hasn’t wanted to own an RV? Head for the great outdoors, explore the country, travel anywhere and not worry about where you’ll rest your head. Local RV dealerships are smack in the middle of their busy season now, servicing and selling motor homes and trailers to people seeking adventure.
“Typically, spring and fall are busy,” said Susan Dinsmore, owner of Kelly RV, Inc., in West Milton. “In spring people are taking their units out of storage. Fall can be equally as busy for the opposite reason. People winterize for cold weather then de-winterize in the spring.”
Kelly RV, established in 1957, also sells four-season units with extra insulation that makes them comfortable all year round. Because the business serves an area from Maine to Florida and as far west as Tennessee, they are extremely busy now with servicing motor homes.
“If you buy an RV, there’s maintenance involved so it lasts you a good long time,” Dinsmore said. “If you keep up with it, we’ve seen trailers in here that are 30 years old and in good shape.”
Like Dinsmore, Gary Farnsworth, owner of Farnsworth Camping Center, Inc., in Elysburg, has been in business long enough to see the ebb and flow of the RV industry, and lately business has been rising.
“We’ve actually all been seeing an uptick in the last three years,” Farnsworth said. “This year has been a little bit off so far, but it’s early.”
At Susquehanna RV, in Selinsgrove, sales manager Scott Hendry reported a similar business cycle, with their busy season beginning in February at the outdoors show in Bloomsburg and extends through October. The unusually high amount of rainfall last year had some effect on sales.
“Sales go down during a wet season,” Hendry said. “People opt to camp less when it’s raining.”
As far as trends in RVs, it’s a tough call, Dinsmore said. People’s needs change with time.
“It’s the kind of thing where there’s constant flux and constant change,” she said. “The market changes with different age demographics.”
Fifteen years ago Farnsworth sold a lot of pop-up campers. Now the 54-year-old company no longer carries a pop-up line.
“People think that with the gas prices, the smaller units would sell better,” Farnsworth said. “We sell more bigger units than we do smaller units.”
Hendry noted that, at Susquehanna RV, about 80 percent of sales are to families and 20 percent to couples. While there’s always a market for the bigger campers, most of their sales are the smaller units.
“And the reason for that is, they’re easier to tow, they cost less money and they’re easier to maintain,” he said.
Looking to buy a motor home or camper trailer?
First figure out how you’re going to use it, Dinsmore suggested. Short trips? Long trips? How many people do you want to sleep comfortably?
All three representatives recommended buying an RV through a known dealer. If buying privately, it’s “Buyer, beware,” Dinsmore said.
“Make sure it’s a solid unit,” she said. “Look at all the seams. Feel the floors to see if they’re solid, particularly the corners and bath area. Look for signs of water.”
Know what kind of vehicle you drive and what it is capable of towing. Like cars, travel trailers can range from economic to luxury, with many considerations at each level.
“My biggest tip today is to buy from a reputable dealer,” Farnsworth said. When the economy plummeted, many of the small, mom-and-pop RV dealers were bought out by mega-companies. “Make sure (your dealership) has a reputable service department.”
Visit the dealerships, but do your due diligence, Hendry said.
Do you want bunks for family members or just one bedroom? Multiple slide-outs or an enclosed plan?
Does the kitchen location matter to you? After you’ve looked through some RVs and found one that works for you, you’re ready for exciting travel and a nighttime view of the stars.
“Take the kids, get away for the weekend,” Hendry said. “It can be a very cost-effective vacation.”
Cindy O. Herman lives in Snyder County. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Facebook.