Lending a bit of warmth at early winter RV shows, the Central Indiana RV Show at the Indiana State Fairgrounds Jan. 17-25 in Indianapolis generated an increase in attendance over 2008 for exhibiting dealers and sales that outpaced last year for towable dealer Lafayette (Ind.) Travel Trailer Inc.
“We did really well,” said Ed Peterson, Lafayette president who also is president of the Central Indiana RV Dealers Inc. “We sold more than we did a year ago by a bit. I didn’t forecast that.”
Peterson reported that attendance at the show was up 3.5% to 7,808 compared to 7,536 in 2008.
“Our industry always is the first into an economic slowdown and the first out,” said Peterson, an RV dealer for 53 years. “I think people are settling down. Spring is coming and we’ll have a fairly decent summer. It won’t be gangbusters, but it will be OK.”
Other late January shows in Maine, West Virginia and Fort Wayne, Ind., experienced moderate declines in attendance and more often than not, decent sales.
“We were very pleased,” said Lynn Butler, owner of Setzers World of Camping, Huntington, W. Va., and president of the Western West Virginia RV and Boat Association. The association staged the Boat and RV Show Jan. 29-Feb. 1 at the Big Sandy Superstore Arena in Huntington. “We sold 20 units and at a typical show we might sell 25.”
About 3,000 people attended the Huntington show – down about 500 people from 2008 – which featured coaches from three dealerships.
At the Fort Wayne RV Show Jan. 29-Feb. 1 at the Fort Wayne Coliseum, attendance was 7,584, off about 5% from 2008.
“Sales were a little flat from last year,” said Mark Bowersox, director of recreation vehicles for the Indiana Manufacturing Housing Association-Recreation Vehicle Indiana Council (IMHA-RVIC), sponsor of the show that featured units from seven dealerships. “Some guys were up, some guys were down. Trailers and lower-end motorhomes were selling the best.”
At the Bangor (Maine) Auditorium and Civic Center, three dealers showed units Jan. 20-Feb. 1 during the 24th Annual Bangor Camping and RV Show, which experienced a 25% drop in attendance.”
“We were actually half expecting to be off a little more than that,” said Mike Dyer, director of the Bass Park Complex where the civic center is located. “One dealer told me he wrote four contracts and the other two felt they had at least four credible leads that they expected to make closing on. They were happy that they did the show. People were a little more upbeat than we expected them to be.”