Florida Parks Manage in Tight Economy
The economy is tough, but Florida RV parks and campgrounds are holding their own, according to the St. Petersburg Times.
"Business seems to be on track and where we were last year," said Bobby Cornwell, executive director of the Florida Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (Florida ARVC).
"They may still be coming, but they might not be spending as much in stores and on other activities," he added.
Repeat business has been particularly strong for some parks.
"We're full because all our Northerners are here," said Stormy Morse, manager at Camper's Holiday Travel Park on Culbreath Road south of Brooksville.
At the high-end Chassa Oaks RV Resort in Homosassa, sales initially seemed to hold steady when the housing market crashed.
"It's a unique market that isn't following the traditional real estate curve," Jim Eyster said in January.
But by late February, Eyster said, sales at the park were agonizingly slow. He had sold only two lots in the beginning of 2009.
Jim Trefz purchased Belle Parc in Brooksville a year ago. He aims to create a vacation resort, and increased rates to help pay for his improvements.
"My price went from $275 a month to $400," Trefz said. "I was about half filled during my first year with very little advertising."
Trefz said he had 97 new customers this season.
Jeff Guzlas, owner of Cody's Catfish Pond RV Park, decided to keep rates the same.
"I didn't raise my rates in two years, and I'm not raising them this year," he said.
But he has made other changes.
"I'm trying to go off the grid a little," said Guzlas. His park has a chicken coop to provide fresh eggs, and he recently planted a community garden.
He's working on a pet-friendly shelter and puts most of what the park makes back into it.
"RV parks just kind of go along," he said. "You have to eat and you have to live somewhere. If your house is foreclosed on, you can live here."