images_sizedimage_186191209

Gerald and Barbara Ketcham camp at the Shenango Recreation Area in a camper they tow with their diesel pickup truck.

Not every business has been negatively affected by the spike in fuel prices.

Kerola’s camper store in Transfer has actually seen an increase in sales since last year, according to General Manager Terry Yoder.

“Our sales are doing great because of (gas prices),” Yoder said.

Why?

Because Kerola’s specializes in lightweight campers that can be pulled with a 6-cylinder vehicle like a minivan, small pickup or small sport-utility vehicle. The store also offers three campers that can be towed by a 4-cylinder.

Yoder said he believes Kerola’s is the largest single-axle camper dealer in the country. Most businesses that sell campers specialize in large ones because “that’s where the money is,” Yoder said. “But now they’re not selling any and we are.”

Camper and accessories sales are up about 25 percent from last year, he said. Kerola’s has sold 30 campers so far this year.

Yoder attributes the increase in sales to the fact that consumers are buying smaller, more gas-efficient vehicles, therefore limiting them to lightweight camper towing capability. He gives the credit to owner William J. Kerola for having the insight when the business began to see the need for lightweight campers.

“Our customers are from all over the country,” he said, most of whom are middle-aged and older. The ones who come to Kerola’s from far away often drive to Pennsylvania, pick up their camper and use it on their trip home.

Kerola’s campers range from 8 to 22 feet long and cost about $4,000 to $14,000. Yoder said a fold-down camper, like the most popular Aliner, may reduce a vehicle’s mileage by only 1 to 2 miles per gallon. Towing a bigger camper, like the Scotty, may lower mileage by 4 to 5 miles a gallon.

The price of gas doesn’t keep some people from enjoying their campers.

Bob and Linda Cosgrove of Hadley camp in their motor home a couple times a year at the Shenango Recreation Area.

They also live in their camper for three months out of the year in Florida. The Cosgroves used to own a smaller camper, but upgraded over two years ago for “more comfort,” Cosgrove said.

“For a long trip, we save up (money) for a while,” he said. “But if gas prices keep going up, we’ll stay local.”

Another camper, Lynn Brest of Hermitage, said she and her family are camping in a pop-up this year, a downsize from a Winnebago.

“We don’t just jump in the truck and go anymore,” Ms. Brest said, because of gas prices. “We’re a lot more conscientious now.”

Mary Boughter of Zelienople said her family camps in a tent every year at Shenango Recreation Area.

“Gas isn’t a factor,” Ms. Boughter said. “We like the tent.”

She also said the lake is good for boating, and the park is “a nice area for the kids.”

Shenango Park Manager Pete O’Connell said the campground will be especially busy for the holiday weekend. O’Connell attributes the park’s success to its friendly and helpful staff and reasonable prices.

Trending Video