ELKHART — Even though the RV industry is in a major growth cycle, one RV dealership is pulling up its local stakes and heading back east.
Three years after Campers Inn took over the old Michiana RV site on Cassopolis Street, hoping to make it one of the top Campers Inn locations, it announced Tuesday, July 30 that it is closing the location at the end of August.
“Regretfully, we have decided that continuing to serve the Elkhart community is no longer in the best interest of either our customers or the company. As a local, full-service dealership, our model is to serve our customers within a relatively local proximity,” said Jeff Hirsch, president of Campers Inn, in a written announcement.
“Over the past few years, Campers Inn has found that in order to achieve a sustainable level of business, we would have to seek and acquire customers from well outside the local area. While this is feasible, it does not fit our model. We do not feel that we would be able to provide the excellent service and value if we actively seek out the long-distance customer by targeting other dealers’ local markets,” Hirsch wrote in his announcement letter.
Despite Elkhart’s location in the heart of RV manufacturing, Campers Inn isn’t the only dealership here to face challenges due to the relatively light population density. Todd Cornell of Tiara RV said last month that his dealership can’t serve a local market with millions of people, so it leverages its location here as a benefit. Customers can buy directly from them and save thousands of dollars on freight costs that are added to the price of an RV in other parts of the country.
Campers Inn has dealerships in New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Florida, Georgia and North Carolina, and plans to open a location soon in Connecticut. When the dealership took over Michiana RV, which had been a Coachmen company store, officials expressed excitement about moving here. “We are looking for this to be one of the top Campers Inn stores,” Scott Hayden, the operations manager, said in July 2010.
In the closure announcement, Hirsch wrote, “we have decided to transition out of the Elkhart area into areas where we can better serve our customers while staying true to our value-based business model. Currently, Campers Inn expects to remain open in Elkhart through August, and we will do our absolute best for all of the company’s stakeholders whether it is our customers, our employees, or our vendors.”
He also said that Campers Inn personnel are “excited about continuing many of the partnerships we solidified while operating in Elkhart, such as our outstanding relationship with Forest River.”