Tom York on Business: Camping World Buys 2 Local RV Dealerships Amid Dip in Demand

Camping World dealership
A Camping World dealership. Image from company website

Illinois-based outdoor recreation retailer Camping World Holdings said it is acquiring family-owned RV Solutions here in San Diego. The deal includes two landmark outlets, RV Solutions and Airstream of San Diego — along with a repair center in El Cajon.

The acquisition should be final early next year, according to a news release. Terms were not disclosed.

The locations will operate as a Camping World RV SuperCenter.

Camping World, a public company, has locations in 42 states

The acquisition comes at a time when buyer enthusiasm for RVs — which exploded during the COVID-19 pandemic — has greatly waned over the past year.

One market researcher said sales are down year 20% as of October compared to the year ago figure.

As a result, sales—and the company’s stock price — have fallen considerably.

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The San Diego Food Bank is one of several public food pantries nationally benefiting from a $60,000 donation from Colorado’s PCL Construction. The company said it has donated a total of $1.5 million to regional food banks.

A news release noted that soaring food prices along with higher energy and housing prices have made it challenging for millions of Americans to put food on the table — one reason PCL has donated to regional food banks.

According to the Consumer Price Index, the food-at-home index, a measure of price changes at the grocery store, has jumped more than 12.4% over the year.

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San Diego-based Sunbelt Investment Holdings recently sold Costco Wholesale Corp., which operates the private member Costco warehouses, a 22-acre tract of land for $5.7 million in Buckeye, located in metro Phoenix.

The deal was first reported by the Phoenix Business Journal, based on country records and a commercial real estate database.

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The San Diego County Bar Association  has elected long-term member Melissa Johnson to serve as its president for 2023, according to a news release.

Johnson, a resident of Santee, will be installed with the new board at the association’s annual dinner on Dec. 9.

Johnson is a partner at Johnson Heeder LLP, and represents workers in employment-related matters.

The 123-year-old bar, the region’s largest law-related organization. It says its mission is to connect lawyers and support their success.

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Escient Pharmaceuticals, a biotech firm working on small-molecule therapeutics to treat a broad range of neurosensory-inflammatory disorders, has closed a $120 million Series C round of financing.

VC firms NEA and Abingworth, along with Forge Life Science Partners, led the investment, with participation from other investors Avego, PFM Health Sciences and The Eleven Fund, as well as existing investors.

The investment will be used to advance two of the company’s drug candidates.

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This just in from residential real estate web portal Redfin.

Mortgage applications and Redfin’s Homebuyer Demand Index increased recently as interest rates hovered around 6.6%, down from 7% earlier this month.

The drop could save a buyer over $100 in house payments, the company said.

Still, supply is piling up — posting a record annual increase –a s pending sales fell, according to a report from Redfin.

The report says home-sale prices fell from a year earlier in five big metro areas, including 9.5% year-over-year in San Francisco, 2.1% in Sacramento, 1.7% in Detroit and less than 1% in San Jose and here in San Diego.

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Some good news on the small business front. Japanese owned San Francisco-based Union Bank finds that small business sales are now beating pre-pandemic levels and will pick up through the holidays. This is according to its annual holiday spending survey.

The survey looked at how small businesses are managing changes to today’s retail economy and how their consumers might spend this Christmas season.

Among the findings:

  • Nine in 10 business owners have bumped their social media activities to better reach digital-savvy consumers.
  • One in 2 consumers will spend more with businesses that offer online ordering, while 1 in 3 consumers will likely spend more at small businesses who offer “Buy Now Pay Later” plans and/or offer third-party integration payment platforms.
  • 62% of the participants said inflation will impact what they spend this year and plan to “spend with more purpose and intent.”
  • California consumers plan to spend more at small and minority-owned businesses with 75% of consumers planning to shop at a small business, and 71% planning to spend at a minority-owned business.

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Finally, this item of note. San Diego’s East Village continues with its robust redevelopment activities.

Business development agency San Diego Regional EDC has moved into office space on the fourth floor of Park & Market, a mixed-use business, arts, and educational office building.

The business development organization says it will hold its annual meetings, conferences and events in its new location.

The building serves a number of non-commercial organizations, including the Burnham Center for Cultural Advancement, the UC San Diego Center for U.S. Mexican Studies and the National Conflict Resolution Center.

UC San Diego’s Division of Extended Studies manages the office building. Head on over to parkandmarket.ucsd.edu for more information.

Tom York is a Carlsbad-based independent journalist who specializes in writing about business and the economy. If you have news tips you’d like to share, send them to tom.york@gmail.com.