The first time Mark Ritchie and Leah Hardy laid eyes on their new camper, it was after they’d bought it, according to a report by Wyoming Public Media.
“It was like, ‘Oh my God, it’s tiny.’ Which was great,” Ritchie said recently while standing outside their home in Laramie, Wyo. “It made me feel actually more confident dragging it around. Because when I see people with giant trailers, I go, ‘Thank God that’s not me.'”
Ritchie and Hardy bought the vintage travel trailer from a seller in California, and then it was shipped to their doorstep. Hardy never thought they’d spend thousands of dollars on something sight unseen.
“That was because of COVID,” she said. “Any other time we would have driven out and looked at it before we bought it.”
Instead, there was a lot of back-and-forth with the sellers, including a few Zoom calls.
“She would hold her iPad and, you know, ‘Can you see the toilet? Do I have it at the right angle?'” Hardy said. “They were really great and really accommodating with trying to give us the most detailed tour possible of the trailer.”
This kind of camper is called a “Lil Loafer,” known for its tin-can-like aluminum exterior. Ritchie and Hardy’s new Lil Loafer was made in 1960, and was recently restored. They’ve named it Junebug. Inside, Junebug manages to contain a kitchen with a sink and three-burner gas stove, a marine toilet, a couch that folds into a queen-size bed, and plenty of cabinets and drawers for storage.
“It’s like a tortoise, right?” Ritchie said. “It’s bigger on the inside than the outside.”
Campers like Junebug – and also much larger and more expensive ones – are in high demand these days. Ritchie and Hardy inquired about several campers online only to find they’d already been sold.
“Only when we started looking did we realize we were part of what I’ll call the pandemic demographic of trailer buyers, because they were really selling quickly,” Hardy said.
While air travel is down and hotel occupancy remains low, the RV business is booming. A recent survey conducted by the RV Industry Association found that 20% of respondents are more interested in RVs since the coronavirus pandemic hit.
“It’s very clear that people want to get back out there,” said Monika Geraci, a senior manager with the association.