Get­ting away from it all, with the com­forts of home

The Glengarry News - Glengarry Supplement - - News -

Like the prod­ucts it sells, Alexan­dria Camp­ing Cen­tre has come a long way since it started 12 years ago.

From mod­est be­gin­nings, the busi­ness has be­come one of the top tow­able recre­ational ve­hi­cle and camper deal­er­ships in Eastern On­tario.

“I am very proud of what our team has ac­com­plished,” says Do­minique Tan, op­er­a­tions man­ager at the com­pany which em­ploys 16 dur­ing the peak sea­son and has lo­ca­tions in Alexan­dria and Lan­caster.

“It did not come overnight,” he ob­serves. “It took blood, sweat and tears.” There was an­other key ele­ment -- ser­vice.

“Serv­ing the cus­tomers right, of­fer­ing fair prices -- that is the real recipe,” adds Mr. Tan.

The com­pany’s clien­tele is “ev­ery­body and any­body,” he ob­serves, not­ing that mod­els, hauled by “fifth wheels,” are avail­able in all sorts of styles and price ranges.

“Young fam­i­lies, peo­ple who va­ca­tion in Florida, Baby Boomers are among our cus­tomers. You can start with a tent on wheels, for $5,000, and go all the way up the food chain,” re­marks Mr. Tan, who runs the busi­ness with his fa­ther, Ping, and brother, Gabriel.

The Alexan­dria Camp­ing Cen­tre’s rep­u­ta­tion has ex­tended be­yond the im­me­di­ate re­gion. “We have cus­tomers from Ot­tawa, Mon­tréal and Toronto. We re­cently shipped a trailer to Bri­tish Columbia.”

Happy campers help pro­mote the lo­cal firm. “Camp­ing is a so­cial thing. When you look af­ter your cus­tomers, the word gets around,” points out Dom­inque Tan.

Ver­sa­til­ity is one of the big at­trac­tions of recre­ational ve­hi­cles. Some want to get away from it all by tak­ing transcon­ti­nen­tal treks. Oth­ers want to travel a few hours and park the RV in a camp­ing area.

Sales of used RVs have been soar­ing lately, adds Mr. Tan.

Over the years, ma­te­ri­als have im­proved. To­day, most trail­ers are made of fiber­glass, which is 15 per cent stronger and lighter than sub­stances used to man­u­fac­ture older units.

Mar­ket­ing magic

The RV in­dus­try is mak­ing an ap­peal to fam­i­lies who may yearn for sim­ple va­ca­tions.

Here is the GoRVing pitch that is reg­u­larly seen on tele­vi­sion at this time of year: Kids want their wild-hoods back.

They want to play not have play­dates.

Get dirty not san­i­tized.

They want you to trade your par­ent­ing books for a fish­ing rod.

They want to wan­der.

Be left alone for more than five min­utes.

They want to sleep in a bunk. Stare at the stars past their bed­time.

They want to eat with their hands. Eat from a stick.

Visit their neigh­bour with­out a chap­er­one.

They want to run, skip, and roam free.

Let’s give them what they are truly miss­ing.

Let’s give them back their wild-hoods.

RV Es­sen­tials

Keep your RV stocked with ba­sic sup­plies, non-per­ish­able foods, li­nens and clothes, and you’ll be ready to go any­time, any­where. RVs give you the free­dom to be spon­ta­neous.

Ev­ery­one has favo-rites and must-haves they can't sur­vive with­out, but here's a list of some stock items to keep on board at all times:

-Adapters for 30 amp and 50 amp out­lets

-Bat­ter­ies -Binoc­u­lars

-Bot­tle/can opener

-Cam­era and mem­ory cards

-Dishes/cook­ing uten­sils

-Fire­wood

-First-aid sup­plies

-Flash­lights, lanterns

-Fold­ing chairs

-Games

-Grill and fuel

-Heavy-duty ex­ten­sion cords

-In­sect re­pel­lent

-Jacket/rain­coat

-Maps and GPS

-RV toi­let pa­per

-Matches/lighter

-Na­ture field guides

-Pil­lows, blan­kets, sheets

-Pic­nic bas­ket

-Plas­tic bags (large and small)

-Pots and pans

-Road flares

-Rope and bungee cords

-Shovel (small fold­ing type)

-Soap and toi­letries

-Sports equip­ment

-Sun­screen

-Tool kit

-Tow­els -Trash bags

-Um­brel­las

-Wa­ter hose (white potable wa­ter type)

Be­fore you leave home, be sure to bal­ance your load – and don’t over­pack. Con­sult the weight la­bel on your RV for more in­for­ma­tion.

The trail of the RVs

The first mo­tor­ized campers were built in 1910. Be­fore then, peo­ple camped in pri­vate rail cars that were pulled to sid­ings along train routes. The year 1910 brought a new free­dom to peo­ple who didn’t want to be lim­ited by the rail sys­tem. RVs al­lowed them to go where they wanted, when they wanted.

Known as “auto campers” or “camp­ing trail­ers” a cen­tury ago, these ve­hi­cles were a fore­run­ner of to­day’s mod­ern RVs.

The 1910 RVs of­fered min­i­mal com­forts com­pared to to­day’s homes-on-wheels.

But they did pro­vide the free­dom to travel any­where, to be able to get a good night’s sleep and en­joy home cook­ing.

The First RV Mod­els

Camp­ing trail­ers made by Los An­ge­les Trailer Works and Auto-Kamp Trail­ers also rolled off the as­sem­bly line be­gin­ning in 1910. A ver­sion of to­day’s Type B van camper, the Pierce-Ar­row “Tour­ing Lan­dau,” was un­veiled at Madison Square Gar­den that same year, com­plete with an on-board bath­room. These com­pa­nies and in­no­va­tive prod­ucts were fea­tured in a Pop­u­lar Me­chan­ics is­sue in 1911.

The Tin Can Tourists

RV camp­ing clubs date back to the Tin Can Tourists of the 1920s and 1930s. The Tin Can Tourists were RVers who braved dust and mud to drive their Tin Lizzies across the U.S. be­fore transcon­ti­nen­tal roads were paved. They camped by the side of the road, heated tin cans of food on gaso­line stoves and bathed in cold wa­ter.

The 1930s

RVs sold in the 1930s used air­craft-style con­struc­tion and came equipped with beds, dinettes, elec­tric­ity and wa­ter. Af­ter World War II, the RV in­dus­try flour­ished as more North Amer­i­cans sought mo­bil­ity.

1950

From tiny do-it-your­self kits to plush 30-foot mod­els, travel trail­ers came into their own as true tow­able RVs by 1950. Many of to­day’s RV man­u­fac­tur­ers started pro­duc­tion in the 1950s and 1960s. The RV’s evo­lu­tion­ary path in­cluded ad­vances in aero­dy­namic design and in­te­rior com­forts.

Through war and peace, booms and busts, fuel lines, fads and the cy­ber-rev­o­lu­tion, the RV life­style has en­dured.

Do­minique, Ping and Gabriel Tan.

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