I have been an active RV enthusiast since 1960. My first trip across 5 Provinces of Canada, in a ’55 Chevy, my wife and I sleeping “into” the trunk from the back seat, was my first RV trip. It led to many drawings for vehicles converted to RV use. Ultimately, it led to nearly 37 years of full-time RV living (including the present day).
There were not many Walmarts, then. No Walmart Supercenters. But there was Sam Walton, and as his empire took shape, he espoused that he would never disallow an RVer an overnight parking space. It was good business, if nothing else. RVers are very loyal customers, and reward the stores , buying most of their traveling needs, and making fuel purchases at their gas stations.
I began reading Trailer Life and Motorhome life in the early 70’s. My champion was the owner and publisher Art Rouse. He took a courageous stand that probably cost him his position,ultimately. He insisted that the Trailer Life Campground Directory indicate the locations of federal, state, city and other local camping sites that were NOT associated with private campgrounds and associations. The opposition was angry and spiteful. Many advertisers pulled their listings and display ads. They wanted all the business, not just most of it. That controversy nearly broke the publishing house, and after Art took on an Emeritus position, the new folks in charge (sons!) kow-towed to the CG interests.
Well, fast-forward to the turn of the century, and to 2011. The inheritors of Sam Walton’s realm have evidently decreed that Sam’s promise to RVers no longer matters. ” Those in RV’s must find camping facilities for their rigs for the overnight stay!” seems to be their new mantra.
Campground groups have descended on cities and towns decrying the old Walmart practice as “bad for their business” , and fomented the passing of ordinances and restrictions preventing what is called “OVERNIGHT CAMPING”.
Let’s be clear…most of these are UNCONSTITUTIONAL measures, and are based on supposed state statutes which really do not apply to the situation. But the CG groups have cowed the authorities into actions that boost their bottom line.
Let’s be clear on another point. People living in their RVs are not CAMPING! The RVs have all the amenities of the houses in which most Americans live. Fortunately, or unfortunately as the case may be…Many RVs are much more luxurious! They are self-contained and sanitary vessels, and pose no threat real or imagined. When I first motored south from New England to Florida in the mid-70s, one could check-in with the manager at any supermarket, from Albertson’s to Publix et al, and permission to spend the night in the parking lot was almost always extended. We bought the evening groceries there, and what ever supplies we needed for the next day’s trip. Has this concept completely escaped the consideration of today’s super chains? Or KMart and local markets with big parking lots that stand empty at night?
I know that personally, I reward the merchants who welcome me. I avoid being where I am not welcome. That makes perfect sense, and is self-defensive with all the new NO RVS signs popping up all over. Florida has finally had the full effect upon me. This is the last year I will visit Orlando, in particular. It has become anti-RV, almost entirely. This resort area wants and needs business. But it does not welcome RVs any longer. There were two HUGE campgrounds in Orlando back in years a bit. They’re gone. The KOA land is still for sale. The other is now developed into commercial businesses along Interstate 4. If you WANTED to find a local campground in Orlando, you would have a difficult time. I know of a few not too far away, but all of them could never contain the RVers traveling from all over North America to this area! You can insert the LAS VEGAS area into this context. Once welcoming…now disdaining the business generated by those visiting in their own rigs.
Sam, you had the business sense, and the horse-sense to embrace the budding RV phenomenon. If only your family and assigns had the same foresight!