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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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After year off, RV show camps out at Spokane County Fair

UPDATED: Wed., Jan. 19, 2022

Michael Meek, of R’nR RV Center, scrubs away the last of any dirt on a 28-foot fifth wheel camper during setup Tuesday for the 34th Inland Northwest RV Show & Sale at the Spokane County Fair & Expo Center.  (DAN PELLE/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)
Michael Meek, of R’nR RV Center, scrubs away the last of any dirt on a 28-foot fifth wheel camper during setup Tuesday for the 34th Inland Northwest RV Show & Sale at the Spokane County Fair & Expo Center. (DAN PELLE/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)

The Inland Northwest RV Show & Sale was one of the few events that got off and going in 2020 just before the coronavirus caused most gatherings and businesses to shut down.

While organizers were disappointed in 2021 to cancel the show, which generally kicks off the sales season, many area dealers powered through with record sales for the year. The 2022 show starts Thursday and runs through Sunday at the Spokane County Fair & Expo Center.

Jason Poole, the market vice president for Blue Dog RV in Post Falls, said nearly every trailer was sold last year before it even arrived at the lot. It was the biggest year he’s seen for sales in 29 years in the business.

“We have never had sales to this level,” Poole said. “This was a monster compared to anything that was even close. In 2005 and 2006, we had a little, but not even close to what we see today.”

Thure Ahlquist, RV manager at Parkway RV of Deer Park, said the Inland Northwest RV Show, in its 34th year, has traditionally been a major draw for his customers.

“Normally, the show for us anyway, accounts in the long run for about 50% of our sales,” he said. “We sell at the show, and people all year-round bring in brochures they got from the show.”

Ahlquist said he’s finally been able to fill half his lot after sales cleaned out virtually every model last year.

“Before, we were always able to get whatever we wanted,” he said. “A lot of times (last year), I was down to one or two trailers. And a lot of sales were out-of-state. We were selling a lot in Colorado and California.”

Buyers would shop online, purchase an RV and drive to Deer Park to pick it up, he said. “There wasn’t a lot of inventory and people were in the mood to buy,” Ahlquist said.

After the big year, dealers are going all out for the show that starts Thursday at the fairgrounds. Some six area dealers will fill all nine buildings at the venue, show promoter Steve Cody said.

“This is such a major show,” he said. “We sell 150-plus units in four days.”

Poole, of Blue Dog RV, said his dealership is showing 63 new units and several more used RVs.

“I imagine they will have great attendance,” he said. “Everything we have seen around the country indicates that buyers are out.”

Cody said the show will bring back one of its most popular attractions: the cash machine. Anyone who buys an RV qualifies to grab as much blowing cash as they can in 30 seconds.

“Every time that cash machine goes off, we get a crowd of people,” Cody said. “I’ve seen people spend $450,000 on a Class A motor home and then ask, ‘Do I get into the cash machine.’ ”

While other manufacturers have been slowed by supply-chain problems, RV dealers have been able to restock much of the inventory sold in 2021, Poole said.

“Inventory right now is the highest it’s been since COVID happened,” he said. “What we anticipate to see at the show is that pent-up demand. With travel restrictions, people are still choosing to purchase an RV and see what our local country looks like.”

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