Kristen West Fisher and her husband, Matt, were thinking about adventure on Sunday as they poked their heads into a small Airstream recreational vehicle.
The 32nd annual Inland Northwest RV Show & Sale takes up 150,000 square feet of the Spokane County Fair and Expo Center for three and a half days every January.
People like the Fishers wander in and out of RVs both small and large, looking for their perfect fit.
“We’re thinking about taking some trips, being a bit adventurous,” Matt Fisher said. “We’re skiers, so we’ll probably go to ski hills.”
The couple recently started thinking about retirement and all the trips they could take with their German shepherd, Lara.
West Fisher initially thought she would want a small camper trailer, or even a motor home, but after exploring a variety of RVs she was open to a truck topper or perhaps a pop-up.
“What I’ve learned is, I’m really open,” West Fisher said.
Her husband nodded in agreement. “I’m really surprised at the spaciousness,” he said.
While the couple were having a good time looking, they, like many others, weren’t ready to buy.
“I mean, you look at 11,000 people at the show, and of course most of them are looky-loos. But being looky-loos, they’re dreaming,” said Steve Cody, the show’s promoter.
Cody, who helped create the Inland Northwest RV show more than 30 years ago, has just as much enthusiasm for the event now as he did back then.
The first RV show took a $50 down payment to reserve the space. RV dealers had to remove air-conditioning units from the top of their trailers to get them into the buildings, Cody recounted.
Now, five dealers fill nine buildings. The show also features about 40 vendors of RV accessories and other products.
Vendors start setting up about 10 days before the show in the “RV ‘Tetris’ game to see how many RVs you can get in here,” Cody said with a chuckle.
One thing vendors really emphasize is variety, he said.
“They want to get a good selection because they may be selling to a 25-year-old, they may be selling to a 75-year-old,” Cody said. “What we’ve really seen in the past 10 years is now it’s more family-oriented.”
Emily and Joey Joy are one of those young couples who ventured out to the RV show on Thursday to see their options. They came back the next day and purchased a 26-foot Coachman.
They returned to the RV show a third time on Sunday to look around with Emily’s parents.
“We go camping a lot,” Joey Joy said.
The family was using an old camper from the ’70s that Emily described as “basically a mobile bed.” But, with their 1-year-old son Charlie teetering around and another baby on the way, the couple were ready for an upgrade.
Their new RV has bunk beds and a bathtub, both luxuries the ’70s camper was lacking.
“We really didn’t come to purchase,” Joey Joy said. However, the $10,000 discount at the RV show pushed them to go for it.
The show is considered a manufacturers’ show where large rebates are available, said Jerry Miller from R’nR RV Center.
Miller worked at R’nR for years before retiring. He continues to come to the RV show to help appraise trade-ins.
“At the show, it happens fast,” Miller said.
He estimates 70% of buyers at the show already own some type of RV, and often want to trade it in. Miller goes through an extensive questionnaire with buyers to give them a trade-in price.
Dealers often offer show discounts and financing is available on-site, making the buying process possible all in one place.
Ultimately, Miller said he thinks the show is so successful because of the outdoors atmosphere in the Pacific Northwest.
“Here in the Northwest, everybody is camping,” he said.
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