ELKHART — Despite the rain, buyers came out to the Midwest RV Super Show Thursday and Friday at the RV/MH Hall of Fame, where the show is reaching pre-recession levels.
Though the full spectrum of recreational vehicles is up for sale, the number of pop-up RVs on display was smaller than the number of motor coaches with pop-out sides featuring outdoor televisions.
There are 215 units available, some which rolled out of the factory this week, available for sale from nine dealers, according to Mark Bowersox, the show’s director and executive director of the Indiana Manufactured Housing Association - Recreation Vehicle Indiana Council.
Standing under a canopy to avoid the drizzle Friday, Dave Titus, owner of International RV said, “we had a great day yesterday. People are buyers,” and that bodes well for his business.
If things keep up the pace this year, “we’re probably going to end up with the best year we’ve had the last seven, eight years,” Titus said. “Banks are lending money, people are buying.”
While the recession hammered Elkhart County — roughly 83 percent of RVs are built here, Bowersox said — Titus said the impact on the RV industry is good in the long run.
“I think the downturn of 2008 was one of the best things that happened to our industry. It got rid of the trash. I think the quality’s better now than ever,” Titus said.
Before the recession, it took his business more than five hours to get an RV ready to deliver it to customers. Today, it takes about 30 minutes of work, he said.
Bowersox said, “The industry’s coming back, the dealers are coming back,” and so are the customers. People from this region and from as far away as Florida, Tennessee and the Carolinas have been there so far.
“Elkhart is always a good place to buy all around, and this show is a good show,” Bowersox said.
That’s exactly what Blake and Cheryl Bauer were doing as they tried to keep up with their three daughters, darting from one model to the next. They came to Elkhart from Buchanan, Mich., looking to move out of a motor home and into a tow-behind camper for reduced maintenance. “I just want something I can lock up, hook up and go,” Blake Bauer said.
“We’ve found a couple of good options,” he said.
The people who’ve come this year have been glad to see more trailers than the show was able to feature the last couple of years in downtown Elkhart. “It was tight last year, this is better,” she said.
Bowersox said he’s grateful to have had the help of the city over the last two years, but he’s also glad the hall of fame and the show seem to be a good fit for each other.
The show runs from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. today and from noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. Admission is $6 for adults, and package deals are available for the show and admission to the hall of fame museum.