Nine dealers bought space at the Tacoma RV Show five years ago.
This year, 15.
Recent editions of the show have been held inside the Tacoma Dome arena.
This year, the arena and the exhibition hall are both full – full of motorhomes and 5th wheels, travel trailers and toy haulers, tent trailers and truck campers.
“The stock market is good, home prices are rising, Baby Boomers are retiring and the RV economy is surging forward,” said Jeff Swenson, show manager, on Thursday morning.
The 31st annual Tacoma show runs through Sunday.
“The RV market is back,” Swenson said. “The cycle is on the upswing. Manufacturers are producing more units. Dealers are carrying more lines. Retirees are coming back, looking at ‘heavy iron.’”
This year, Swenson and organizers O’Loughlin Trade Shows turned down two dealers who wanted to buy space.
There was none left.
“It’s gotten better every year, the number of people and sales,” said Jim Hardy, general manager at Paul Evert’s RV Country and a 35-year veteran in the industry.
“The economy up here is a lot stronger than in Oregon south of Salem,” he said. “Northern California is still tough. You have so much going on up here. You’ve got people who are spending money.”
They’re buying the Solitude, with its LED lighting on the awning and the magnetic hatch latches. Sale cost: $68,995. They’re buying the Retro, with its checkerboard floor, for $17,961.
Hardy brought 30 units to the show. He’ll be happy to sell 15.
Along the floor of the arena, where motorcoaches and trailers and such are parked chock-a-block, signs proclaim, “Amish Crafted Cabinetry,” “Mold and Mildew Resistant,” “Aluminum Cage Construction,” “Enclosed Underbelly.”
This is the first Tacoma show for Terry Sinkler and U-Neek RV Center in Kelso. This year the company came to Tacoma rather than going to the Portland RV show.
“This is a larger population base,” Sinkler said. “A fair number of people who come to this show come from south of here.”
And those people, he said, “used to be 60-and-up. Any more, it’s 25-and-up. We‘re seeing a lot of younger buyers.”
Al and Donna Holes came from Bainbridge Island.
“We want to see what’s new in RVs,” said Al.
“We’re boaters and we’re thinking about becoming land boaters,” Said Donna.
Louie and Rita Cotte came from Chehalis.
“I want to make sure we have a separate bathroom,” Said Rita. “And beds, in case all of the kids come with us. I’m also looking at how hard the beds are to make.”
“We just came to look,” said Louie.
Bob and Carol Redfield came from Olympia.
“We’re not committed yet, “ said Bob. “We are looking for something that could accommodate long-distance travel.”
Something like the Tiffin Allegro, at $238,560.
Or the Rubicon, the Forester, the Cougar, the Redhawk, the Wildwood Lodge, the Cardinal.
The list goes on.