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Camping World in Allegheny Township is buzzing with activity.
Amid ongoing construction for a renovation project, the store is also one of 164 locations nationwide hosting the Ultimate RV Show, a virtual event taking place over the course of five days. The event started Wednesday and is running through Sunday.
“It’s a great way to kind of educate the new campers into the market and allow the seasoned campers to review more (RVs) without putting their health at risk,” said Sang Hoang, general manager of the chain’s location in Allegheny Township.
Individuals can register for a host of livestreamed RV tours, as well as webinars with experts for camping tips and advice.
The show includes various deals as it showcases around 19,000 RVs available for purchase across the country. Hoang said most customers will check out the inventory online and then set up an appointment at their nearest location to view the RV in person.
In-person showings are utilizing health and safety guidelines from the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, he said.
The show effectively replaces what would have been the nation’s largest RV show: the Pennsylvania Recreation Vehicle and Camping Association typically hosts a massive event in Hershey each year, garnering thousands of customers from all around the U.S. Originally scheduled for this week, the show was canceled due to covid-19 concerns.
Hoang said the cancellation drove more people to participate in Camping World’s virtual event.
“It’s actually multiplied our traffic online,” he said, noting that around 135,000 people have registered for the virtual show. “What the company is doing, they’re kind of reinventing the way RV sales are to the customer.”
The virtual option is fitting, too, Hoang said, as the company sees more and more customers from a younger demographic.
“We see our demographic is starting to get a little younger in a more technology-driven world,” he said. “It kind of coincides with how the majority is purchasing nowadays.”
Local site will more than double
The Allegheny Township location is also in the process of a massive renovation: construction is ongoing to update and expand the facility. The store will continue to operate through the construction, Hoang said, and there will be a grand reopening at the end of next year.
The facility is 30,000 square feet as it is now, but will soon double in size. The location will be adding room for a total of 25 service bays and about 20,000 square feet to stock specialty supplies and necessities that come along with RV care.
Hoang declined to comment on how much the project would cost.
“Being a flagship facility in the area, we don’t have the room to take care of our customers,” he said, noting that the Allegheny Township store is the only store in the region. The closest locations are in Ohio and Harrisburg.
Camping has become an increasingly popular vacation option for families during the pandemic, as it can be done independently and at a proper social distance from others. RV vacations also tend to be less expensive than hotel or resort getaways, making them more appealing during the economic crisis spurred by business closures: multiple RV suppliers have reported spikes in sales in the last several months.
Hoang said RVs are “the best way to travel nowadays,” under the circumstances. The Camping World consumer base has grown every year, he said, and covid-19 is certainly a contributing factor to growth in 2020.
“We’re here to just try and provide safe, fun, enjoyable camping experience,” he said.
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