Buffalo Business Promotes Luxury Tent Camping
2009's cool, wet summer isn't exactly what Patricia Jensen hoped for when she launched her business in June.
"In spite of the weather, we've had a lot of weekends when we've been sold out," the neophyte Buffalo business owner told Buffalo Business First. "I think many people planned long ago to take camping trips and weren't going to change their plans."
Jensen said her first 150 customers included a grandmother and her six grandchildren, and visitors from Germany, Holland, the United Kingdom and Australia as well as from New York and New Jersey.
Jensen enjoys outdoor activities and has bicycled for 25 years or more. Coupled with an interest in camping, she had a brainstorm for a new business – camping without roughing it. Or put another way, "Luxury Camping!"
"We have always enjoyed vacationing in wilderness locations throughout the U.S., but sometimes the effort it took to organize a primitive camping trip was exhausting," she said.
"The worst part of camping is 'schlepping' all of the equipment and sleeping uncomfortably on the ground."
So she began ConTENTment Camping – in essence an outfitter service with a twist.
"Instead of just handing you the basic items needed for camping, we upgraded to include real beds and furniture similar to a rustic hotel room."
To get started, Jensen said she invested $12,000 for 12 full-size safari-style tents, equipment and accessories, and kayaks and bicycles, which she rents out.
Accessories include a bedside table, a second table and two chairs for a sitting area, cooler, two ground pads for underneath sleeping bags, blankets, pillows and fresh linen for the beds.
Jensen also handles setup and take down. When a customer arrives at one of three New York State parks that Jensen has partnered with, everything is set up and waiting, she says.
Evangola State Park in Erie County, and Four Mile Campground and Golden Hill State Park in Niagara County, parks with lakefront locations that emphasize tent camping, have contracted with ConTENTment Camping its initial year.
The ReserveAmerica.com website carries New York State parks data and promotional information for the business under the title "Camp With Comfort." Single tents cost $60 a night; two tents on a site are $90.
Jensen has partnerships with only three New York parks this year, but she hopes to expand the number in 2010 and beyond. New York lists 69 state parks with campsites.
"In New York, camping is a seasonal activity, but if we can get similar arrangements with parks in Florida and other places where people go for the winter, we could go year-round," she said.