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No damper on campers at RV show

Category: RV Show
Source: Mankato Free Press, Minnesota
Publish Date: Sunday, February 8, 2009
Summary: Local exhibitors say sales remain steady

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By Brian Ojanpa
Free Press Staff Writer

MANKATO February 08, 2009 12:04 am

Rhonda and Steve Lensing came to Mankato Saturday to window-shop new campers.
Not that they’re in a buying mode — yet.
The Bird Island couple bought their first camper in 2000 — a 24-foot used trailer — and were smitten.
They’re on their fourth one now — a 34-footer bought new — and they know there’s more in the offing.
“We’ll probably have one or two others,” Rhonda Lensing said as she and her husband perused offerings at the fourth annual RV & Outdoor Show in Alltel Center.
The type of camper the Lensings own is in the taller-cotton class of RVs, but at Saturday’s show it was the new kid on the entry-level block that caught the eye.
The R-Pod is a retro-look trailer in which form follows function and can be had for $11,500 to $14,000, depending on desired bells and whistles.
Kimberly Kroubetz of Kroubetz Lakeside Campers in Lake Crystal said the unit improves upon the small-camper genre because of its larger interior and roomier headspace. And like other campers in its class, it can be towed by a mid-sized car — a boon for non-passive campers.
“This is really geared for people who use a good gas mileage car and like to go out and do stuff rather than stay in their camper all the time,” Kroubetz said.
There may be no such thing as a recession-proof industry, but Kroubetz said the RV business in this area appears to be holding serve, thanks in part to the area’s agricultural economy.
Kroubetz said her January sales were the strongest in four years, and theorizes that the economic times might be prompting some families to rethink how they spend their leisure.
She thinks people might be opting to get back to the basics with family camping outings rather than annual splurges on expensive vacations.
Kroubetz is grateful for her uptick in sales, but fellow show exhibitor Larry Weaver sounded a different refrain.
Weaver is an RV dealer in Indiana, in a county near South Bend with 16 percent unemployment.
He said his sales area in the Michigan-Indiana-Ohio axis has been devastated by Detroit’s woes.
“People don’t realize how many subsidiary businesses are affected by the auto business,” he said. “The trickle-down is enormous.”
But Weaver, who has weathered two other recessionary eras, said this too shall pass.
“Like I tell my salespeople, it will come back, because camping is here to stay.”
No one has to convince the Lensings of that.
Their two adult children own campers as well, and the clan devotes a weekend to a camping outing at a different site each year.
The show runs 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. today.


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