Big weekend for Camping World/Good Sam

This is a big weekend for Camping World because the Bowling Green, Ky.-based company is playing a major role in two national events on opposite coasts – the Rally running July 14-17 at the Deschutes County Fair & Expo Center in Redmond, Ore., and at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway where the company’s Good Sam Enterprises LLC division joins RCR as the primary sponsor on the No. 33 Good Sam Chevrolet driven by NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Driver Clint Bowyer.

“We are excited to partner with RCR and sponsor Clint in the No. 33 Good Sam Chevrolet,” said Marcus Lemonis, chairman and CEO of Camping World and Good Sam Enterprises LLC, formerly known as Affinity Group Inc. “Clint is an avid outdoorsman who understands our business and our customers. Clint’s parents have been members of the Good Sam and the Camping World President’s Club for many years.”

Out in Oregon, where The Rally’s unit count by last night (July 15) was close to 3,000, things have been going well, according to Camping World spokesmen. On hand for The Rally, one of the nation’s three key national consumer rallies for 2011 (along with the Family Motor Coach Association’s (FMCA) upcoming convention Aug. 10-13 in Madison, Wis.), are 361 exhibitors, including 20-plus RV manufacturers, and some 560 motorized and towable display units.

New Hampshire Motor Speedway

“Camping World had the best sales in one day at a rally they’ve ever had yesterday,” Terry Thompson, vice president of sales for the company’s RV consumer magazine titles, reported Saturday morning. “And guys I’ve talked to at different companies like Newmar, Jayco and Winnebago seem pleased with the initial consumer response early in the game. The early signs are that sales are going to be good for these companies, and the same goes for the indoor displays.”

Good Sam Events Coordinator Sue Bray concurs with the positive assessment, despite torrential rains that surprisingly swept across the area and delayed by an hour a Friday night performance by C&W favorite Vince Gill.

Bray, noting that a Thursday night concert by ‘60’s crooner Bobby Vinton went well, says she’s pleased with a unit count of nearly 3,000 – a decent number, most industry watchers would agree, in the post-recessionary era.

“Yes, we think we’re going to hit more than we had in Louisville in 2010 and more than we had in Albuquerque the year before, but not as many as we had when we were here in ’07 or when we were in Perry (Georgia). We’re pleased,” says Bray, noting that Camping World has three national rallies slated for next year in Phoenix, Louisville and Daytona.

Friday night, Bray added, the club recognized long-term Good Sam Club members by providing them with preferred seating for the Vince Gill performance.

“Marcus (Lemonis) last night talked to the crowd and wound up giving away a lot of stuff,” she said. “For instance, he gave away Pilot Flying J gas cards to people who had driven the farthest. We also presented RVers of the Year Don and Marilyn Buller from Fresno, Calif., with their award and a donation to their project. And Marcus actually is loaning them a fifth-wheel and gas and a Camping World shopping spree as part of what they have won as the Good Sam RVers of the Year.”

“You know,” she added, “one of the interesting things here has been using some social media. We’ve been posting a lot of stuff on the Good Sam Facebook page and, oh my gosh, did we get responses. I mean, as soon as we put it up, somebody’s on it, talking about the rally – you know, mostly people who aren’t there asking questions and that sort of thing. So, we’ve had a lot of chatter going on there.”

On tap today is a show by early rocker Peter Noone of Herman’s Hermits. Bray says attendees will also attempt to break the Guinness Book of World Records standard for the most people simultaneously doing “high fives.”

The event concludes on Sunday evening.

“All things considered,” says Bray, “we couldn’t ask for much better. The weather has been generally gorgeous. People are happy. You know, there is snow on the mountains; you have that gorgeous view of the Three Sisters (mountains). Oregon is really putting on a show for us.”