Camping sales surge in northwest Ohio

Amid a pandemic, the sales of recreational vehicles and the numbers of guests at camping sites are at an all time high.
Published: Aug. 12, 2020 at 7:44 PM EDT
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TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - Reineke RV of Toledo has never seen sales like this summer ever before.

Company partner Tom Chalfin has spent more than 45 years in the RV business, and he says we are living in history.

“I’m thinking over the years it’s never been like this before, and I guess the reason is people want to go off on their own and stay away from the virus. They have their own bathroom to use, and they don’t have to go stay at a motel or a hotel. They can go out in the wild or wherever they want to be and be distanced from people”, said Chaflin.

The Reineke lot sits nearly empty with only a dozen vehicles filling its West Lewis Street Toledo location.

Chaflin explains they just can’t keep up with the record number of sales occurring as of late.

“Right now things are good and bad. The good thing is we’re selling almost everything that we have, as soon as it comes off the lot. The bad part is we can’t replace them, it’s too slow, inventory is too slow coming in,” said Chaflin.

While recreational vehicles are hard to come by on the sales lots, you can find campground sites packed with them, even on a weekday.

“We’ve owned this business for 20 years and we’ve never seen anything like this before, but we’ve made it. And business is booming. Business is good for the campground business,” said Bluegrass Campground owner Raymond Montgomery.

Bluegrass Campground, located in Swanton, sits filled to the brim with RVs and trailers.

Montgomery is thankful for a returning surge to his campsite, following the state of Ohio’s orders to shut down camping facilities to attempt to slow the spread of COVID-19.

“We’ve been very busy, and we’ve been happy for it because we were shutdown the first month and twenty days into May, so it’s good to have the business here to make up for some of that lost time,” said Montgomery.

Raymond believes camping provides the community a much needed getaway from the chaotic climate the world is in today.

“In my experience, they are camping just to get out of the house. And have a safe place,” said Montgomery.

The owner of Eco Camp, an upscale natural camping experience located directly next to Bluegrass, agrees his site is providing joy at a much-needed time.

“Well, it kind of gives you kind of that place of serenity that’s away from your home where you maybe can forget about the troubles that are surrounding us these days and kind of a way to turn off the noise a little,” said Eco Camp owner Alex Wrege.

Wrege, a former University of Toledo outdoor education instructor, is in his 3rd year operating the so-called “glamping” experience with Eco Camp.

“If you’re looking to be off the grid, have solar panel lights, that kind of stuff, then ECO Camp is the place for you to go, " said Wrege.

Eco Camp is operated fully by solar power. The camp also features private bathrooms and on-site showers, all of which are equipped with running water.

The camping site had adapted its site to adhere to social distancing practices and says its sales have been hot since reopening to the public.

“People are looking to spend time outside and quality time outside. So for me, business has been great this entire season,” said Wrege.

You can book reservations for both Eco Camp and Bluegrass Campgrounds on their websites, the only advice they say is to act fast.

“For Bluegrass, it has been booked out usually about a month in advance. We’re booked now pretty much through Labor Day weekend and it will get busier during the weekdays as well,” said Montgomery.

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