The production and sale of recreational vehicles have picked up since 2009, and industry experts are predicting another record year for 2017.
January is apparently a good time to get rolling on some deals if an RV is in your future. Two RV shows are going on this month in the Wichita area, with both touting large selections and low prices. Even if you’re not in the market for an RV, it can be interesting to see how far modern campers have come.
The five-day Wichita RV Show, the longest running of the two shows at 28 years, is Wednesday through Jan. 15 at the Kansas Pavilions. It’s one of the last shows that will be staged at the Pavilions, near the old Kansas Coliseum in Park City, before the facility shuts down in February, according to show director Jeff Pritchard. Three Wichita-area dealers – Flint Hills RV, Trailers & Hitches and Wichita RV – sponsor the show, which will move to Century II’s Expo Hall in 2018, Pritchard said.
The four-day Greater Kansas RV Show comes up at the end of the month, Jan. 26-29, at Expo Hall. That show is put on by the Greater Kansas RV Dealer Association, made up primarily of dealers from elsewhere in Kansas and one local dealer, 54 Auto and RV in Augusta.
At either show, those touring the newest RV models are bound to marvel at the floor plans, furnishings and features.
James Massey, who has been in the RV business for 29 years, including the past 16 years as owner of Trailers & Hitches in Augusta, said he has seen a lot of changes in the industry.
“Every year, I think they can’t get any better, and then they keep coming up with new, innovative things,” he said.
“In the ’80s, there were no slide-outs,” he said, referring to the retractable feature within an RV that can provide more living space when expanded while parked. “Now it’s hard to sell a unit without a slide-out.”
Newer models come with as many as six, he said.
Residential-sized refrigerators and sinks, granite countertops, sleeping accommodations for up to 12 people with bunk-bed compartments and 1 1/2 baths are some of the newest features, say local dealers.
Retiring baby boomers, some of whom are eschewing traditional homes for RVs, are fueling many of the features, the dealers say.
“They’re putting everything that you can have in a house in these things,” said Darren Ledgerwood, general manager of Andover-based Flint Hills RV, where sales have increased almost 300 percent since 2012. “The buyers are wanting to have those luxuries that they are used to having in their homes.”
“Folks aren’t just snow-birding in these but are living in these full time,” agreed Dale Fischer, general manager with Wichita RV, with locations in Andover and Wichita. “They can look like a brand-new house.”
At the Wichita RV Show, Wichita RV is the only one of the three dealers that will include pre-owned, motorized RVs as part of its display, most of which will be towable units. Flint Hills and Trailers & Hitches will display only towable RVs.
The Greater Kansas RV Show will include dealers of both motorized and towable units.
Wichita RV Show
When: 4-9 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, noon-9 p.m. Jan. 13, 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Jan. 14 and noon-6 p.m. Jan. 15
Where: Kansas Pavilions, 1279 E. 85th St. North, Park City
Admission: $8 for adults, $1 for ages 9 to 15, free for ages 8 and younger
More info: wichitarvshow.com
Greater Kansas RV Show
When: noon-9 p.m. Jan. 26 and 27, 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Jan. 28 and noon-5 p.m. Jan. 29
Where: Century II Expo Hall, 225 W. Douglas
Admission: $7 for ages 14 and older, free for ages 13 and younger
More info: kansasrvshows.com