The RV Industry Is ‘Crazy Busy’

Sep 4, 2020

Kacey Marner calls her family’s recreational vehicle her part-time job. The stay-at-home mom of four puts in hours on upkeep: tightening loose cabinet doors, washing windows and vacuuming upholstery.

She also juggles the calendar of renters who tap the online marketplace Outdoorsy to reserve the Marners’ 32-foot motorhome.

“It hasn’t sat still very long,” said Marner, who lives in north St. Louis County.

It’s a good time to be in the RV business. Campers and mobile homes have become more appealing during the coronavirus pandemic, when flying, staying at a hotel and even eating out can induce anxiety. Competition for recreational dollars, such as cruises and resorts, has all but evaporated. And RV dealers expect virtual schooling and work-from-home flexibility to keep families on the road beyond Labor Day.

The Marners make about $200 a night, and did 50 rentals this summer before their own big trip: a 6,000-mile sojourn through the Rockies and along the West Coast.

But rentals are just part of the RV boom this year.

“The lot is the emptiest it’s been in 20 or 30 years,” said M.B. Thomas RV Sales co-owner Lonnie Hall, who has worked at the Lemay dealership since 1967.


For RVers, social distancing is not a new concept. The first recreational vehicles debuted in 1910, just two years after Ford’s Model T. Shipments of RVs nearly tripled in the decade after the Great Recession before flattening out last year, according to the Recreational Vehicle Industry Association.

The sharp coronavirus slide quickly rebounded to surpass sale and rental high marks. More RVs were shipped to dealers in July than any month in the past 40 years. Outdoorsy and its competitor, RVshare, both reported booking three times the trips they did last year in just the first half of 2020.

Skyrocketing business isn’t the only change, said Jon Gray, the CEO of Ohio-based RVshare. This summer’s renters are different, too.

Check out the full article from St. Louis Today here.