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In what could be the first of an anticipated wave of new growth for Camping World Inc. (CWI), the Bowling Green, Ky.-based RV aftermarket retailer has announced the planned addition of three new aftermarket parts and accessories stores, all to be completed by the end of 2003 in conjunction with new U.S. RV retail developments.
These are in addition to a previously announced 15,000-square-foot Camping World store now under construction as part of a new 27-acre Alpin Haus dealership facility on I-90 in Amsterdam, N.Y., owned by Bud and Andy Heck.
The largest of the new developments will be an anchor store in the planned Indio RV Mall, a 60-acre site accommodating eight dealerships and a 25,000-square-foot Camping World Supercenter on busy Interstate 10, just outside Palm Springs in Southern California. Overseeing the project will be Robert “Boots” Ingram, the founder of towable RV manufacturer Teton Homes Inc., Casper, Wyo., and now a senior partner of RV manufacturer Marathon Homes Corp., Elkhart, Ind. Ingram will develop the Indio RV Mall and serve as president of B&B Enterprises Inc., Indian Wells, Calif.
On the opposite coast, an 18,000-square-foot Camping World store is proposed as part of a new 26-acre location in Stuart, Fla. It is planned by RV retailer Florida Outdoors, the president of which is Brian Spieles. Situated on the shore of a 35-acre lake between I-95 and the Florida Turnpike, this retail facility will be a component of a larger 100-acre project that also will house a retailer of personal watercraft and ATV’s.
Plans also call for CWI to open a store inside an an expanded Hart City RV Supercenter Inc., a $40 million-a-year dealership located on the west side of the RV manufacturing hub of Elkhart. The Elkhart Camping World store will occupy part of the newly expanded 60,000-square-foot, indoor showroom-equipped facility at Hart City, the nation’s top Newmar dealer for more than a decade. “It will make our dealership and Elkhart a destination for RVers,” said Dick Aker, owner of the 20-year-old dealership.
The new developments, two of which are located in resort communities, reflect a trend toward ambitious new destination-style RV retail developments with amenities ranging from service facilities to restaurants and convenience stores, according to spokespersons for Camping World, a division of Affinity Group Inc., of Ventura, Calif.. AGI publishes RV Business and oversees RVBusiness.com. At the same time, the developments underscore CWI’s emphasis on alliances with dealerships to create one-stop retail developments catering to a wider variety of RV-related needs.