The first-ever Harrisburg RV & Camping Show, held Feb. 26-March 1 at the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex & Expo Center, attracted 8,000 attendees and was deemed a good initial showing by organizers and dealers.
The show was managed by GS Media & Events, a division of Good Sam Enterprises LLC, which owns and operates 23 recreation-focused consumer shows throughout North America. GS Media’s Dave Body said the show went “better than expected,” even with a Sunday snowstorm.
“Attendance was good, there were plenty of sales and overall it was just a good experience,” he said. “The dealers were telling me that they had a good show, even if the weather didn’t fully cooperate.”
Greg Habina, a sales manager at Keystone RV Mega Center, a full line dealership in Greencastle, said they had a “really successful show.”
“I’ve been doing this for about 10 years, and the crowds we had Thursday and Friday were better than I’ve ever seen at a show. Saturday we were just slammed, it was completely busy. Sunday we had the snow, but the rest of the days more than made up for it,” Habina said. “The crowd was a good mix of people as far as age demographics, and I’d have to say it was more of a buying crowd than lookers – not that we didn’t have lookers there.”
He added that Keystone RV Mega Center is off to a terrific start for 2015, which makes up for a sluggish end to 2014. “I always say a slow fall means a busy spring,” Habina said. “We were a little slow in January, but we’ll break a record for us in February.”
“It was a good show; I can’t complain,” said Lester Martin, senior manager at RV Value Mart, a full-line dealership in Lititz. “We did really well with our stick-and-tins, especially the Aspen Trail and the Revere.”
The retailer, which brought just six units to the show because it was also exhibiting an hour away at the Greater Philadelphia Outdoor Sportshow, specializes in entry-level towables. Martin said that explains why 65% of their business this year has been to first-time RV buyers.
“Traffic has been great,” he said. “It was really good back when it was cold. Then we got hit with some snow and it started to slow down. But now we’re getting back at it again.”
Eric Lunger, owner and general manager of Juniata Valley RV in Mifflintown, tried a new approach for the Harrisburg event. The towable dealer carries a wide variety of travel trailers by CrossRoads and Gulf Stream, but chose to bring 18 folding campers and teardrop trailers from A-Liner and Little Guy Worldwide.
“It was something different. Everybody brings travel trailers; we wanted to be unique,” Lunger said. The strategy was mostly effective, he reported. The units drew a lot of interest, but not necessarily a lot of buyers — yet. “The show itself was OK. We had a lot of tire-kickers, people who said they were two or three years from making a purchase,” explained Lunger, who added that Juniata Valley RV has experienced a busy start to the year.
Taking the opposite approach from Juniata Valley RV was Stoltzfus RV & Marine, which brought seven Class A units by Tiffin Motorhomes Inc. A member of the Priority RV Network, the dealership carries an extensive lineup of motorized and towables from a wide variety of manufacturers but decided to showcase one gas and six diesel pushers.
The result? They generated a number of leads and are expecting residual sales, said General Sales Manager Joe Hendrickson.
“We were pleasantly surprised. We have a lot of follow-up to do,” he pointed out. “We got all kinds of comments, like ‘This is the most expensive motorhome at the show,’ and, ‘This is the fanciest.’ But mixed in with the lookers were serious candidates for buying. Typically, those buyers want to spend some one-on-one time with the units back at the lot and take a test drive, something they can’t do at the show.”
Other Pennsylvania dealers at the show included Camping World RV Sales of Harrisburg and Lerch RV in Milroy.