The nationwide rise in gas prices hasn’t hurt business at Southaven RV Center in Southaven, Miss. In fact, despite what people may think when they see large RVs on the road, business at Southaven RV has been growing, according to the DeSoto Appeal, Memphis, Tenn.
“Sales are up 30% over last year,” said Chris Jenkins, the company’s sales manager.
“Gas prices really haven’t affected who is buying RVs,” he said. The only thing that has changed is how people are using them.
Instead of picking a location and taking 300 to 400 miles in side trips on the way there, according to Jenkins, RV owners are now more likely to drive to a single location and stay there longer. Plus, he said, it’s cheaper to stay in an RV than a hotel.
And, he stresses, when you buy an RV, you’ve made an investment. The demographic of the RV buyer is constantly expanding, growing younger, every year, Jenkins said. What once was seen as a retirement purchase now sees buyers in their 30s and 40s.
“It’s a toy, like buying a boat,” he said. “People don’t have to have it. It’s part of the dream life, sitting at the lake or traveling 5,000 miles with all the comforts of home.
“Despite being used for recreation, many RVs qualify for tax credits as a second home,” Jenkins said. He estimates 90% of his customers already own a home. A much smaller segment of his customers are those who buy RVs to use as working/living offices and those who live in an RV full time.
In the springtime, Jenkins said, most of the sales are to young families with children getting ready for vacation. In the fall, there is the older crowd going south for the winter.
“It’s still a great way to see the country,” he said.
Southaven RV Center is a full-line dealer, which means it carries everything from $7,500 to $8,500 pop-up campers to top-of-the-line, 40- to 45-foot RVs costing more than $500,000.
They mainly carry Monaco and Newmar motorhomes and Jayco and Keystone trailers. Southaven RV stocks close to 300 at two locations totaling about 10 acres. Jenkins is confident Southaven RV will continue to prosper.
Internet sales have become a growth area, bringing in a steady stream of customers from coast to coast. Jenkins estimates 10% to 15% of their sales come from the business’s well-established website, crediting owner Mark Hixson’s foresight and computer savvy for the success in Internet sales. He also credits Hixson’s customer-driven attitude for the business’s local successes.
Southaven RV Center’s main facility is in Southaven, with a second location in Olive Branch, Miss. Both cities are located just south of Memphis.