The following is an excerpt from The Gazette, Cedar Rapids, Iowa, examining a boost in RV sales, according to several of the state’s prominent dealers. To read the entire article click here.

The vacation is over for the “vacation business” as people are again buying recreational vehicles in Iowa.

“RVs are a discretionary item. You don’t have to have an RV,’’ said Jeff Englebart, co-owner of Lasso E RV of Anamosa. “Right now our sales are up. (Business) is improving and has gotten better each year, but it’s not where it was in the mid-2000s.”

Sales for the high-volume travel trailer sector edged up 2.1% in June, according to the latest Statistical Surveys Inc. report.

“We’ve kind of bucked the (economic) trend here in Eastern Iowa. We’ve been able to run strong through it all. We’ve felt very fortunate,” said Gary Ketelsen, of Ketelsen RV in Hiawatha, now in its 50th year in business. “Unemployment is lower (here). We are also in an area where core family values are still important. In the Midwest, people still see the need for family get-togethers.”

RVs are one way for families to go camping, without having to rough it.

“A lot of peoples’ idea of camping is the Marriott — they want the comforts of home. People want to stay comfortable, but they still want to enjoy nature,” Englebart said.

Some do make comfort concessions.

“We’ve had some people request that we take the TVs out of units,” Englebart added.

Ketelsen RV sells the gamut of RVs, from pickup campers to motorhomes. (The motorhomes aren’t kept in stock but can be ordered.)

For $80,000, for example, there’s a fairly plush 39-foot fifth-wheel, with a raised living room/den and sculpted wood trim, three TVs — including a 40-inch set — an electric fireplace, two leather couches, storage, a king-sized bed, freezer-refrigerator, stove, microwave, a bathroom, plus five slideout areas that can be expanded at the push of a button.

But the meat and potatoes of Ketelsen’s business are 27-foot travel trailers that sleep six adults and cost about $18,000 to $20,000.

Amenities include a regular bed, bunks, a full bath with tub-shower combination, microwave oven, refrigerator, TV, rollout canopies and air conditioning.

Lasso E carries a full line of pickup campers, travel trailers, fifth-wheels and motorhomes. An entry-level travel trailer — at 16 to 17 feet, 3,500 pounds, fully equipped and self-contained — are the most affordable at $8,600 to $8,700, Engelbart said.

But most customers want something larger, so the bulk of Lasso E’s business is larger travel trailers in the $15,000 to $35,000 price range.

To read the entire article click here.