Having spent quite a bit of money in more than a week in the Black Hills and Rapid City areas of South Dakota, we started thinking about the economic impact of people like us, whether full-time travelers or simply vacation RV enthusiasts, have on the communities we visit.
According to a recent economic impact report by the RVIA (RV Industry Association), RVers contributed to the economic impact of every state — including more than $6 billion to campgrounds and tourism, and another $5 billion in RV sales and service.
RV sales continue to be on the rise, and CNN-Money reports that “Kampgrounds of America, with its famous KOA RV campgrounds, reports that business is the best it’s ever been in the company’s 57 years.”
Of course, some states see a higher level of economic impact than others. The top five states — including Florida, California, Texas, Arizona, and Pennsylvania — see $1.9 billion each year in direct economic output just in terms of jobs and payroll from RV parks; these numbers do not include tourism and service dollars.
We estimate that we in one week, we contributed at least $4,000 to the local marketplace. We spent a week at an RV park and two nights in a hotel; we visited two wineries and bought multiple bottles of wine; we had our two vehicle serviced; we had both regular service and warranty work done on our trailer, as well as buying a set of four new tires; we bought groceries and supplies at local stores; we bought a bunch of organic fruit, veggies, and bison at a farmers market; we ate dinner out one night; we purchased cave tours and various souvenirs at each park and monument we visited.
Because Ran is a marketing guy, we like to reward people and companies that realize we have a choice on where to spend our dollars. We had some amazing customer service experiences at Green Star (where we purchased our trailer a year ago) — with Dustin and Mike — getting much needed repairs to keep us going on the road for another year. We also received amazing customer service from Walt at Rapid Tire and Alignment when we discovered the day before we were planning to leave that we needed an alignment and new tires on our trailer. While the trailer was being serviced, we enjoyed a little luxury in a very customer-friendly My Place Hotel. The Black Hills Farmers Market is huge and we were quite happy with the many organic farmers and ranchers on hand selling their veggies, fruits, and meats.
Finally, we always like to visit local wineries and have to report both great service and fun wines at two local wineries. A must-visit in the Black Hills is Prairie Berry Winery in Hill City; we always have good customer service there — and they certainly have a collection of interesting wines. In Rapid CIty, we loved our tasting at Firehouse Wine Cellars (which makes their wine locally with grapes mostly sources from Washington state); they have a wonderful selection of reds.
What’s the point of this blog post? Just a reminder for RV parks, retailers, service centers, and other businesses that not all your revenues come from locals; there are many folks like us traveling across the country — and every place we stop, we spend money… sometimes just at the RV park and gas stations, but many times at the grocery store, restaurants, farmers markets, and tourist attractions. (And yes, sometimes at the local Walmart and Costco too.)
Next up? Back on the road with stops in surprisingly (for us) beautiful western Nebraska.