As a record number of families pack Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park Camp-Resorts this year, according to company officials, an increasing number of commercial real estate investors are staking their futures in the brand, notes a press release from Leisure Systems Inc. (LSI), a company that franchises more than 75 Jellystone Parks throughout North America.
Investors from the multi-family, mobile home and self-storage industries are among those discovering Jellystone Park and the growing family camping/RV business.
So far this year, investment group activity includes:
- Commitments for new camp-resorts to be built near Grand Junction, Colo.; north of Las Vegas, Nev. in Hurricane, Utah; and near Knoxville, Tenn.
- Acquisition and expansion of existing Jellystone Park campgrounds near Cedar Rapids, Iowa; north of St. Louis, Mo.; in Delaware Beaches, Del.; and near Cleveland, Ohio.
- Conversion of independent campgrounds to the Jellystone Park brand in Cape Cod, Mass.; in northern Pennsylvania; and near St. Louis, Mo.
Of the 10 agreements, seven involve investors with holdings or experience in the self-storage, mobile home or multi-family markets.
After thirty years of investing in self-storage properties, Ricky Jenkins in 2019 shifted his company’s focus to campgrounds and RV resorts. Today, The Jenkins Organization owns eight campgrounds, including four Jellystone Park locations. It has acquired existing Jellystone Park campgrounds, as well as converted independent parks. The Jenkins Organization is planning a fifth Jellystone Park that will open next year at Watts Barr Lake near Knoxville, Tenn.
“Self-storage was getting over-built, and I looked at a lot of asset classes before moving into the campground industry,” Jenkins said. His strategy includes acquiring existing Jellystone Park locations and converting independent campgrounds to the Jellystone Park brand, then quickly expanding attractions, activities and accommodations. “We really like creating a great family experience, and property performance has been much better than expected.”
Sean Vidrine exited the mobile home industry three years ago because it was falling out of favor with many cities. His Four Points RV Resorts acquired and expanded two existing Jellystone Park locations. It is currently converting an independent campground to a Jellystone Park. “This is a great time to be in the space because the business is very fragmented and made up of mostly independent operators,” he said. “We like that many campgrounds have room for expansion, and if you make the capital improvements and have a good marketing plan, your business will grow.”
According to both Jenkins and Vidrine, Jellystone Park’s sole focus on family camping makes the brand unique. They added that franchisor LSI provides excellent support that is critical to successfully building and converting campgrounds, noted the release.
“Working with LSI has been a very good experience,” Vidrine said. “Any time we have needed support, whether it’s research or help with marketing, training and retail sales, they have been a very good partner.”