At least two Elkhart, Ind., RV dealerships did not survive the industry’s most recent downturn, but those that did, along with new entries into RV retailing, are optimistic that the market will improve, according to the South Bend (Ind.) Tribune.

The dealers were interviewed prior to the opening today (Jan. 10) of the 26th Annual RV Camping Show & Sale in South Bend.

The show, sponsored by the Recreational Vehicle Indiana Council (RVIC), will continue through Sunday (Jan. 13), and 11 dealers are exhibiting, according to Mike Chesser, the show organizer.

Each participating dealer hopes to leave the show with eight to 10 orders in hand and more in the pipeline, Chesser told the Tribune.

The two Elkhart dealerships that closed during 2001 were Worldwide RV and Holiday World RV Center.

Odyssey RV also reportedly closed shortly before Christmas. Callers to the dealership during normal business hours hear a recording asking them to leave a message.

However, one dealership from nearby Middlebury, Ind., Ewing’s Outpost RV, opened in Elkhart last Nov. 1 and a new dealership, Great Lakes RV Center, is preparing to open in Elkhart during February.

Tow Ewing, owner of Ewing’s Outpost RV, bought the former Miller RV Center in Elkhart. He told the Tribune he is forecasting a 15% increase in sales this year at his Middlebury location and healthy sales in Elkhart.

The owners of Great Lakes RV are Rob Reid and Glenn Guidry, both former regional reps for an RV manufacturer.

Reid and Guidry were not immediately available for comment for RVBUSINESS.COM, but Reid told the Tribune, “If we get established when the market is low like it has been, then we’ll be positioned to ride the wave back up. We feel sales (in 2002) will surpass 2000, which was a banner year” until the sales downturn began during the fourth quarter of 2000.