Billed as the largest RV and camping show in New England, the Jan. 18-21 Boston RV & Camping Expo at the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center weathered through a snow and ice storm that hit the Northeast, lowering attendance on Sunday to a trickle. The effects of the winter blast resulted in mixed reviews from dealers exhibiting at the show.
“Boston’s first major winter storm of 2019 didn’t put a damper on the 2019 Boston RV & Camping Expo,” said Carolyn Weston, show director for Paragon Group Exhibitions and Services which produces the show for the host New England RV Dealers Association (NERVDA). “The show was a huge success despite some challenging weather and extremely cold temperatures. Visitors were ready to buy and had a great selection of over 200 units to choose from. Daily animal shows and seminars on everything from first-time buyer tips to low-waste/high-nutrition cooking demonstrations were packed. Our campsites and accessory vendors were pleased with the crowds and reported record sales.”
Mark Donilon of Arlington RV Supercenter in East Greenwich, R.I., told RVBUSINESS.com that sales for the dealership were “pretty disappointing,” adding, “Sunday was an absolute bust because of the weather, and Monday was slow as well. We spoke to some other dealers that were pretty disappointed with the results. But a couple of larger guys said they did OK.”
Arlington RV was showing six Class C motorhomes at the show but said he heard that many towable products were moving well. He added that with the anticipation of the bad weather coming on Sunday, traffic was steady on Saturday.
“It was very crowded on Saturday as everyone was trying to get in there before the weather hit,” he said. “It was extremely busy Saturday and Friday was pretty average for the show. We will see what happens after the show with the follow-ups. That could be good.”
Speaking from the display area the afternoon before the show closed, Ray Panzino, general sales manager of Cold Springs RV Center in Weare, N.H., offered a more upbeat analysis.
“It actually turned out to be an all right show,” he said. “I think Friday was a little up from last year and then Saturday was off the wall from start to finish. So I think most people came out before the weather and the football games on Sunday looking for deals.
“We sold a mix of everything from big destination trailers to the small ultralights. The motorhomes did not do as well as we hoped. People are shopping. We have some good prospects, but every other category was selling well.”
Panzino said he brought 14 units to the show, adding that the show demographics were mixed.
“We saw every age group with a real mix of people,” he said. “We saw young couples starting out with kids in their early 20s buying their first RV and the older folks looking to retire. We deal with the weather and the playoff games every year. It was a good show for us.”