A Once Booming Industry is Losing Ground

March 30, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
RV dealers say rising gas prices and more competition are making for tough times. But for consumers they say the time to buy is now.Just a week into spring and some people are already making summer vacation plans.

Brandon and Brooke Frost are checking out the Outdoor Recreation and Sportsman Show at Chukchansi Park looking for something to haul dirt bikes. And price doesn't seem to be a factor.

"You got to pay to have fun, it's not a factor for me but I know for a lot of people it would be," says Brandon.

But their enthusiasm isn't matched by many. Several RV dealers from around the valley confirm sales are down.

Paul Evert tells Action News after 9-11 Americans were afraid to fly and RV sales soared. But now record high gas prices and a slumping economy are taking a toll on his livelihood.

"This slowdown started in 2006, started slowing little bit more in 2007 and now we're about the same as the end of 2007 so it seems to have flattened out," says Evert.

"Yea, I think gas prices are keeping people away a little bit," says Bob Silva, RV dealer.

Silva has also seen sales slow down, but at the weekend show at Chukchansi Park he sold 7 recreational vehicles, one for 3 quarters of a million dollars. He says some people are catching on to their bargaining power.

Adding to the sagging sales is the number of dealerships that sprung up during the RV boom. In the Fresno area it spiked from 4 to 12, tripling the competition.

But Paul Evert says he'll weather this economic storm like he's done before. Evert says he's been through 3 of these economic slowdowns but this is the first one that's lasted longer than a year.


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