ABCs of New RVs: East Cooper travel trailer, motor home dealer promotes “camping school” for buyers

Palmetto RV partner and manager Ross Holmquist displays a sprayer that's attached to the back of the North Trail travel-trailer and can be used to clean off a metal pullout for coolers (Jim Parker/Staff 3-21-2013).

“Look at this, this is pretty cool,” said Ross Holmquist, warming to his impromptu walk-through of the new 32-foot North Trail travel-trailer.

He edges over to the built-in television and nudges the wooden siding. Like the bookshelf in the movies that gives way to a secret passageway, the encased TV rotates 180 degrees.

There's a good reason for that, said Holmquist, general partner at Palmetto RV in Mount Pleasant. A bedroom is behind the center console. So when it's nighttime, the set can be swiveled around for viewing in bed.

Holmquist is an RV sales associate and dealership part-owner. But during the Thursday walk-through, he was showing his skills in another role: as teacher. His setting? Palmetto RV KOA Camping School.

The dealership offers buyers of its new travel-trailers and refinished motor homes the chance to spend two days learning the ins and outs of their new campers and trying them out. The service is free. It teams with the KOA just off Morgan's Point Road in Mount Pleasant: The campground provides back-to-school RV buyers a parking space, complete with electrical hookups and a picnic table.

According to a dealership flyer, “We will take you through all of the aspects of owning and operating your own motor-home.”

Palmetto RV in the write-up said it covers such topics as the “Dump Station Blues Can Be Gray,” and “Water Heater Stuff.” The buyer-pupil learns about driving and parking the RV, when and how to plug into campground hookups, roof care and maintenance, generator operation, slide usage, electrical issues, jack operations, “how the refrigerator selects power,” and “how the A/C really works.”

In a last lesson before class is dismissed, so to speak, the school helps buyers assemble their own troubleshooting kits. “We will show you how to replace fuses and fix small things that happen while camping … i.e., why ruin the weekend over a 20 Amp fuse,” according to the flyer.

Palmetto RV, in addition to the camping school, offers such services as a 24-hour hotline to report any problems with the trailers and motor homes. On certain weekdays, shoppers can join the dealership employees for an informal lunch, hot off the grill.

Whether a salesman or educator, Holmquist knows his stuff. He rattled off the types of North Trail travel-trailers a few miles away from KOA at the Palmetto RV lot, citing the size by length — “21 (foot), 22, 24, 26, 28, 30, 31, 32 and 33.”

Holmquist gripped the side of the travel-trailer at the open door to show off its larger-than-normal two-inch thick insulated walls. He smacked on the ceiling with a fist to visually and audibly demonstrate the RV's sturdiness. He noted the fiberglass shell is tested down to 7 degrees, while adding that shouldn't be a problem in South Carolina.

He's also knowledgeable about the customers. For instance, “I would say the majority of (travel-trailer) buyers are middle aged, 35-40, with kids,” or they're more senior and are downsizing from a motor home.

A case in point is the Smith family from Mount Pleasant. Jonathan Smith bought a 32-foot North Trail for himself and his wife Anna, 6-year-old daughter Morgan and 3-year-old son Tristan. The model, which he purchased from Palmetto RV, lists for about $29,000.

“This is something we can all do together,” Jonathan Smith said. “Maybe we'll go to the mountains” — the family has property outside Asheville, N.C. — “or Edisto.”

He said, “We have plenty of room. This gives us a lot of options.”

The Smiths were expected to take the dealership up on its camping school offer.

Jonathan Smith said he looked at other brands and locations before choosing the North Trail at Palmetto RV. Among his considerations were an outdoor kitchen and a spacious sleeping area, both of which come with the 32-footer. It's the “caliber” edition, which means it has features that fit someone with at least one year's experience with an RV.

The travel-trailer can be towed by a half-ton pickup and doesn't require a heavy duty or extra-large truck, said Smith, who owns a Ford F-150.

Still, Smith said one benefit trumped them all. “Service after the sale is most important to me,” he said.

To learn more about the dealership, visit

Reach Jim Parker at 937-5542 or