The final RV retail show of 2001 ended Sunday (Nov. 11) in Tampa on an upbeat note, according to the Florida RV Trade Association (FRVTA) and the participating dealers who were interviewed.

More than 4,600 people paid to attend the four-day FRVTA-sponsored show at the Florida State Fairgrounds in Tampa, said Dave Kelly, the FRVTA’s marketing director. That means 200 or so more people attended this year’s Tampa Bay RV Show than was the case during 2000, Kelly said.

“We (the FRVTA) are very happy with it (attendance) and I think most of the dealers were really pleased,” Kelly said. “The interest (in the RV lifestyle) is there, the tough part is getting people to sign on the dotted line” of a purchase contract.

Fifteen dealers participated in this year’s November show in Tampa, compared with 20 last year. But the 15 dealers bought as much show space this year as the 20 dealers reserved last year, Kelly added.

Fred Landry, owner of Landry’s Work N’ Play Inc., a dealership with locations in Fort Myers and North Fort Myers, Fla., was among the dealers pleased with the recently concluded Tampa show.

“We sold eight (new) motorhomes out of an 18-unit (motorhome) display,” said Landry, who added that he also sold five used diesel pushers at the show.

Among the people buying new motorhomes from Landry’s dealership at the Tampa show were two couples in the late-40s to early-50s age bracket “who had never given any thought to RVing” prior to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

It took a significant amount of discussion, particularly “showing how the (leveling) jacks work, how the water heater works, how the toilet flushes…” to convince the first-time buyers to make their purchases, Landry said. Consequently, sales representatives will need a vast amount of product knowledge in order to sell to the group of customers who, only recently, became interested in RVing, he said.

“We heard very little talk about the state of the economy or state of the union,” Landry added. “It was a great show.”

The first RV retail show in 2002 will begin Jan. 2 in the Tacoma Dome in Tacoma, Wash. Other combined boat, sports travel and RV retail shows will begin Jan. 3 and Jan. 4 in San Antonio, Cincinnati and Houston.