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.