A group of South Carolina recreational vehicle dealers are looking for a new home after announcing their split, after 35 years, with the Greenville Boat and RV Show held annually at Greenville’s Palmetto Expo Center.
The Spartanburg Journal Herald reported that Terry Masters, owner of Masters RV Centre in Spartanburg, said the RV dealers want to produce their own event dedicated to recreational vehicles at another venue.
Masters is president of the South Carolina RV Dealers Association (SCRVDA). “Basically, it gets down to who owns the show,” Masters said. “Greenville thinks it does, and we don’t think so.”
John Willis, general manager at the Palmetto Expo Center, agreed with Masters’ view, with a caveat. “They (SCRVDA) don’t think there’s asset value to the show, and we believe there is,” Willis said. “I can’t just give it away.”
One of the main issues of ownership dates to when the city of Greenville bought the assets of Textile Hall and the events that came along with it. When the Expo Center took over Textile Hall’s events, there weren’t any questions of ownership of events such as the boat show, holiday fair and RV show.
The Spartanburg Expo Center, located off I-26 at the former Waccamaw Pottery building, is among the sites Masters said his group is discussing for a move.
“Spartanburg is on our list,” Masters said of the March show. “The site where Waccammaw once was is one place we looked. There are a lot of posts in the building and it’s hard to maneuver some RVs around them. The ceiling is also low, but we could use the open parking lot if needed.”
The split with the Palmetto Expo Center came to a head when event organizer SMG and the city of Greenville could not agree with the association on a concrete date outside of the annual Boat and RV show previously showcased each February.
“A show dedicated exclusively to recreational vehicles delivers better results for our dealers,” said Ron Plemmons, SCRVDA executive director.
Masters said the SCRVDA spends about $35,000 to $40,000 a year on leasing and marketing the Greenville show.
“The attendance has been declining for the past eight, nine years (from 12,000 to about 5,000), the prices are going up and we’re losing square footage because of the modification of the building (Expo Center),” Masters said.
“When you’re spending that kind of money on show participation, you need more input and control over marketing expenditures that will deliver your target audience,” Plemmons said. “We can no longer rely on entities that have little and no show management experience to do that for us.”
Masters said, in comparison, the RV dealers were spending more than the boat dealers and outdoors vendors combined.
Willis disagreed. “The rates (SCRVDA) they are charged are half of what most other boat shows are paying,” Willis said. “They would be hard-pressed to find a better offer.”