Wecome To RVs and OHVs

This blog is all about RVs (recreational vehicles) and OHVs (Off Highway Vehicles), camping, and survival
and how they work together to provide wholesome family fun and great learning opportunities.
Many posts are intended to familiarize novice campers and RVers with RV systems and basic camping and survival
skills. But even experienced RVers and campers will enjoy the anecdotes and may even benefit from a new
perspective. Comments, questions, and suggestions are encouraged.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Camp Stores

Camp stores usually refers to small stores within a campground or resort. Camping stores (like Camping World, L.L. Bean, and REI) would usually designate larger facilities that specialize in camping equipment. Camp stores typically cater to the immediate needs of their guests. Their offerings may be limited to a few frequently forgotten sundries, basic groceries and some tent and RV supplies.  They are usually a relatively small portion of the campground office but may sometimes occupy their own separate space at larger campgrounds.

There is no standard for what you'll find at a camp store. I've seen some where merchandise was limited to 3-4 short shelves of sundries (toiletries, first aid supplies, batteries, etc.) and others that exceed what you typically find at the convenience store in travel centers. It just depends on local demand, available space, store budget, and the merchandising skills and attitude of the manager.

I was partly responsible for stocking our little camp store during my summer job at a resort and it can be more complicated than you might think. Suppliers often have minimum order requirements that make it difficult or even impossible for small stores to carry some items. What that means for guests is, things you might expect to be there aren't because the purchase price is too high or the minimum order size would leave tons of costly merchandise sitting around until it expires and has to be thrown out. Sometimes we would just buy commonly requested items at a retail store in town and resell them with little if any markup just to have them available for our guest's needs. In our case, our small store was more for the convenience of our guests than for profit.

I like to spend a few minutes checking out the camp store when I check in so I'll know where it is and have some idea of what is available. It is sometimes nice to know if there are OTC pain killers and shaving supplies nearby. It is also good to know if they have RV supplies or if I need to look elsewhere if something comes up. If they don't have what you need one of the clerks can usually tell you where you can get it -- even it if means driving 25-30 miles or more to the nearest city. Also check on the hours of operation. Nothing quite so frustrating as arriving at the camp store at 8:30 pm with a major headache and finding they closed at 8:00!

Camp store prices are often, but not always, somewhat higher than you would pay in larger stores in the city. This isn't because they are trying to rip you off. Their delivery costs are often much higher due to their remote location and small volume. You must also consider the convenience. Sure, you may be able to buy milk for under $3.00/gallon at Walmart and they may charge close to $5.00 in a resort market. But when that Walmart is 30 miles or more away, the extra couple of bucks makes it a bargain to be able to get it when you need it. After all, if you go to the camp store, you probably need it NOW! And driving into town would undoubtedly cost more than the extra couple of bucks, especially at today's escalating fuel prices!  Of course, supply and demand is always a factor in pricing.  If there are alternative places nearby where you can purchase goods, prices may be lower.  Always consider the convenience and the value of having what you need when you need it.  If you don't like the price and can wait until you get to town, by all means, wait.

Making use of camp stores can save you time and, when you consider fuel costs and driving time, save you money as well. To minimize the cost of supplies, plan on stocking up on major items before you leave home or stopping in the nearest city for major purchases before you venture out into less populated areas. You may often find limited stock in remote locations. Sometimes they simply don't carry everything you want at all or, because their supplies are limited and deliveries infrequent, they may be sold out of popular items. Basic grocery items like milk, bread, and butter and popular camping specialties like the makings of S'mores (graham crackers, Hershey bars and marshmallows) are among the things that sell out quickly.

If they don't have what you need or you don't like the prices, it is certainly OK to provide feedback to the clerk or the manager. Just remember, the poor guy or gal at the register probably has little to do with the choice of merchandise or setting prices. Yelling at him or her isn't going to get you what you want. A polite word or note to the manager is more likely to get results, probably not in time to help you this trip, but it may assist future travelers  (including yourself).

Camp stores sometimes carry unique arts and crafts by local artists. These may be unique, even one of a kind, items you won't find anywhere else. If you come across something that interests you, you should probably buy it while you can. Chances are you won't find it anyplace else and, given the limited supply of many hand-made items, the one you want might easily be sold out if you wait even a day or two.  Items might include camping related goodies as well as local arts and crafts.

Happy shopping!

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