Archive for Wednesday, May 16, 2001

RV park up and running, ready for speedway bustle

May 16, 2001

Dave and Lisa Robbins sold their house to have enough funds to invest in their dream business.

And now, that business, a 53-acre recreational vehicle park next to the intersection of Interstate 70 and Kansas Highway 7 interchange, is even better than they dreamed.

The Robbins, along with Dave's parents, Ralph and Ruth Robbins, purchased the land in November 1997.

"In January 1998, it was announced on TV that NASCAR was going to open a new track in Kansas City," said Dave Robbins, who, like his wife, grew up in Tonganoxie.

"My wife and I thought, boy, this is going to be neat," Robbins said, "We wondered what part of Kansas City it would be in."

The Robbins were just getting their feet wet in their new business when they heard the news the track would be about a mile from their park.

"We stood there and looked at each other for a second," Robbins said. "And then we decided we'd better get going, get the sites in before they got that thing built."

The campground opened in June 1998 with 47 parking sites for RV campers.

"About as soon as we opened up, 23 sites were occupied with the guys who were working on the racetrack," Robbins said.

Business, he said, built up without a hitch.

"Six months after we opened, we added another 20 units."

And since then, they've added more, so that nearly 100 campers can park overnight.

Still, there's room for more.

"We could get 2,500 lots on here if we wanted to," Robbins said.

When Robbins first looked at the land, he wasn't searching for a good buy he was searching for mushrooms.

"In May 1997, I was mushroom hunting over there, and I ran into a guy who caught me on his property," Robbins said. "He was out there hitting golf balls."

The two met.

"I gave him some of my mushrooms and we stayed on talking terms," Robbins said.

In getting to know the landowner, Robbins said he learned that the property had formerly been an RV park, and that it had closed in the early 1980s.

Robbins said he thought the owner regretted that it was no longer used as an RV park. So Robbins told him if he'd sell the land to him, he'd would start up an RV park.

The owner was receptive, Robbins said.

"He said, if you do that, then I'll sell it to you right," Robbins said. "He said he would make me an offer I couldn't refuse."

The Robbins had been thinking about opening an RV park for years. A high school buddy of Dave's, Bob Glidewell, operated one in Cheyenne, Wyo.

"My son would go up there every summer and work for him and we would go up there to take him and bring him back," Robbins said. "We saw what the RV business was like and we thought if there was any place in Kansas City where we could open up, we'd go ahead and give it a shot."

But not knowing how much business there'd be, they knew they were taking a risk.

"I tell you what," Robbins said. "We sold our house and everything to invest in this place. We sunk everything into this park and the good Lord was looking down on us, he was watching over us."

In addition to creating parking sites for campers, the Robbins installed an in-ground pool, built a camp headquarters and moved into a home on the property.

The staff includes Dave and Lisa, along with two full-time campers who work in exchange for free rent.

And Dave's parents help out when they can.

"They do a lot of work over here," Dave said. "Mom helps with the books and the checking in and Dad helps me out with the mowing, cleaning up the place, trimming weeds and planting trees."

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