Tue Feb 26, 2019
Author: RV News Staff
GSI Outdoors, a Spokane, Wash.-based brand of Camp Saver specializing in camping and backpacking equipment, hopes to re-enter the RV market in a big way in the coming months.
“We noticed at the most recent Outdoor Retailer show in Denver that there seems to be a developing merge between the smaller RV market and the outdoor active marketplace GSI’s North American Director of Sales,” Tom Hathaway (pictured left) says. “It was evident throughout the facility that there is a new generation of younger, more active campers who want to get to a remote place quickly and advance from their basecamp. They want a teardrop trailer, or something that is rugged that they can pull up into the woods. That fits our traditional customer.”
Hathaway says many of GSI’s latest products are a good fit for smaller towables where space is at a premium. Much of the company’s cookware is lightweight and collapsible or “nests” in a way to make the most efficient use of space.
Hathaway says GSI targeted the RV market about 10 years ago with products, but moved away from it. He believes the time is right for a return.
“We need to ask questions of where are they buying the cookware and other accessories for their RVs and address how we can best meet their needs,” Hathaway says.
He says GSI sees the RV market developing more in alignment with its products and how they are used.
“One statistic we heard from RVIA is that one of the fastest-growing categories is small towables being purchased by customers 35 and under,” Hathaway says. “That’s really typical to our active customers. We don’t want to ignore this market and we see it as a growing trend.”
Hathaway says his company plans to reach out to dealers and find ways to collaborate on how to serve this younger demographic. Brick-and-mortar stores fit GSI’s business model well, he says. GSI is the largest supplier of camp kitchen equipment to REI and is also a large supplier to Bass Pro Shops, he says.
“In the past, most RV dealers have not been interested in creating a section in their store to merchandise a section of accessories, but maybe now smaller dealers, or perhaps new dealers who are more in tune with active campers, will be interested,” Hathaway says.
GSI Outdoors will likely be an exhibitor at future RV shows, but Hathaway says the company needs to do more research. He says the company considered exhibiting at this year’s RVX, but decided to wait for future events.
“We typically invest heavily in a trade show, so we want to do a little more homework before we jump into a major RV show,” Hathaway says.