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'We can’t keep up': Local RV sales rise as more St. Louisans hit the road

"We can’t keep up with it. Our inventory usually is roughly 100, 120 campers ... I think we’re down to 20"
Credit: SLBJ
More St. Louisans are going RV camping leading to a rush on vehicles at local dealers.

ST. LOUIS — As waves of new RV owners roll across the nation, St. Louis RV dealers are racing to meet demand.

The desire for a vacation, coupled with fear of airplanes and hotels due to COVID-19, has driven renewed interest in buying and renting recreational vehicles. Hot offerings include not just motorhomes, but also travel trailers and campers that hook up to existing vehicles.

“It’s crazy,” said Matt Diamond, co-owner of Colman’s Country Campers in the Metro East. “We can’t keep up with it. Our inventory usually is roughly 100, 120 campers ... I think we’re down to 20.”

Lonnie Hall, co-owner of M.B. Thomas RV Sales Inc. in South County, said “exceptional demand” has helped the company bounce back from poor sales during the coronavirus shutdown in March and April.

“It’s hard to describe how terrible those two months were,” he said. “May and June have made up for that. This is overwhelming, almost, the way the demand has been now.” 

At Apache Village RV Center in Hazelwood, May was the company’s best month in several years. Between Apache and its sister dealer Midwest RV Center in South County, the two sold about 200 units. Normally they average 140 to 160 units in a good month. The difference may not seem significant to some, said Apache General Manager Jack Meyer, but for the RV industry, “that’s pretty big.” 

Meyer said while many of Apache’s customers have historically been retirees, he is starting to see a shifting demographic. 

“In the last few months, it’s just been more and more young people that we’ve seen, wanting a change in the way they travel,” he said. Hall said that because people have fewer recreation options than they did before the pandemic, they're willing to explore options they hadn't previously considered. 

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