On the day the Steelers lost the American Football Conference championship in 1995, the annual Pittsburgh RV Show was touting the industry’s latest and greatest: RVs equipped with full kitchens and bathrooms.
But, on Sunday (Jan. 8), attendees of the show at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center could actually watch the Steelers’ playoff win against the Miami Dolphins inside any one of the luxurious vehicles, surrounded by LED lights, aluminum framing and the newest push-button technology.
These aren’t your grandfather’s RVs anymore.
“When you called it ‘roughing it’ in an RV 25 years ago, it was because you didn’t have a toilet,” show Producer Rob Young said. “Now, ‘roughing it’ is not having access to the internet.”
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported that the number of RVs with all their new bells and whistles — on display for an estimated crowd of 30,000 over nine days — was one indicator that business is booming in an industry hit particularly hard by the recession of the late 2000s. In 2015, the number of RV shipments surpassed 395,000, the largest shipment year since 1977, according to the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA).
Dealers from the region, several of whom said they saw record sales in 2015, talked of an economic upswing in the past two to three years, propped up by low fuel prices, low interest rates and a changing consumer base. Young estimated that at least $3 million would change hands over the nine days of the show. The mobile homes on display ranged from $5,000 folding camping trailers to diesel-powered vehicles priced at upward of $300,000.
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