Editor’s Note: The following story is courtesy of the RV News Service and the Chicago Daily Herald.
Like a lot of other RVers, Larry Socha parked his motorhome at Walmart, overnighted and the next day, ran a few errands in his towed car. Returning that afternoon, Socha was — well, surprised at least — to find his rig had vanished.
Socha’s 40-foot Prevost Marathon coach (with $40,000 in the safe) hadn’t been heisted. Rather, after knocking on the door a couple of times to no response, the Glen Ellyn, Ill., Walmart manager simply had the rig towed away. Socha, who happens to be a Walmart stockholder, was a bit dismayed when he couldn’t even get an apology from management. Still, he takes the situation with a bit of philosophy.
Telling the local newspaper, TK, “Will I stop shopping there? No, I’m not a jerk,” Socha said. “I learned a lesson.” The lesson was a hard one, a tow bill to the tune of $872.50. Making matters a bit more stinging was history. This wasn’t the first time Larry Socha had parked at the Glen Ellyn Walmart — he’d done so last year for several days — with no trouble. Socha says he found he could park there on a Internet website.
Still, Walmart says there are signs in the lot that indicate “No truck parking,” and that towing will take place. Had Socha “checked in” on his arrival, he might not have had his Prevost pulled. A Walmart statement quoted by the paper reminds all of us, “Permission to park is extended by individual store managers, based on availability of parking space and local laws. Please contact management in each store to ensure accommodations before parking your RV.”
Campground industry officials were quick to jump into the issue. Says the paper, “‘Whenever Walmart allows free overnight camping, it not only results in lost business for local campgrounds but lost transient occupancy tax for local cities,’ emailed Paul Bambei, president and CEO of the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds. He noted that campgrounds pay for licenses, pass health and safety inspections and offer services not found in parking lots.”
With 40 grand in the RV safe, why would Socha park at Wally-World? He makes a good case: The nearest RV campground would have made for a two-hour round trip to visit his mother in Glen Ellyn.