Camping is making a big comeback. And the RV lifestyle is more attractive than ever.
No one knows that better than Bradley Eubank – President and GM of Bill Thomas Camper Sales in Wentzville.
“The interest in our product has just gone crazy in recent months. Camping and the RV Lifestyle have exploded for a variety of reasons. One new trend is that people are figuring out different ways to use RVs for more than just camping. They use them to ‘work from home’…from anywhere,” says Bradley, who is the son-in-law of the owner, Bill Thomas. The company has been in business for 55 years.
In a recreational vehicle, a couple or family has all the technology they need to stay connected, and a socially distant place to stay when visiting. Homeschooling can become roadschooling. “For kids doing virtual school, that can be done from any place. And that can really augment their education.”
Many RVers are on the road doing service projects and charitable works. There are communities for 55-and-older, those with luxury resort-style amenities, and of course the traditional camper communities.
Bradley says the industry overall has been trending to smaller, lighter weight trailers…ones that don’t need a heavy-duty tow vehicle. “You can use the SUV you already own to tow it. And these have all the same amenities, just in a smaller footprint. You don’t have to give up anything.”
The top of the line camper remains the Airstream. Bill Thomas Camper Sales has been an Airstream dealer for 53 years…longer than any dealer in the country, according to Bradley. They are the only dealer within several hundred miles of St. Louis.
“Airstream is unique in its aerodynamic design and uses the highest-grade construction and materials. They vary from the 16’ Base Camp to the 33’ Classic.”
He says the next great frontier for RVs to explore involves integrating technology, much like the trends in home automation.
“We see lots of families getting into camping, but also the empty nester or retired folks who are realizing the many ways they can use it…from a weekend getaway, to traveling the country visiting their kids and grandkids. They can travel with their pets. Also, you’re on your own schedule. You have the ultimate flexibility. If you decide to stay longer at an interesting spot, you can.”
Some of the neatest customer stories are those where grandparents take their grandkids for extended trips that really become ‘trips of a lifetime’…that I love hearing about,” says Bradley.
“The other things folks don’t appreciate until they’re out there doing it is that, as a family or as a couple, you wind up making more of a connection. That is our mission…to support that. It’s what we do all day every day. We’re just a small piece of the puzzle that makes it happen. And we love it.”