Thursday, October 6, 2022


Building an RV park: Vendors and more vendors! Plus paperwork progress

By Machelle James
When you shop in a store, it probably doesn’t occur to you who the parent company is for that product. As in, “Hey, who makes and owns these delicious Twinkies”? I never thought of it myself until today.

I think I know what we are going to sell in our camp store, but that can change based on our guests’ needs and requests. I am thinking milk, eggs, bacon, hot dogs, creamer, hot coffee, water bottles, snacks, chips, soda, juice, ice cream, ice, candy, condiments, s’mores items and, possibly, frozen food items. We also are going to sell non-food items such as paper plates, TP, solo cups, RV supplies, local vendor items and, of course, our AJ’s Getaway swag items.

I have been on the phone with several different vendors this week to see which ones are a good fit for us and that will deliver the various items we will need to stock in our store. I have had one vendor that wants to meet us and to sit down and decide what would be best for us. Now, I really like that personal touch and I hope it works out for the both of us.

We do know we can buy certain things ourselves and resell the items with our Business License. The thing is, will we really have the time to go into town, buy all the items, bring them home, and set them up in the store? But it’s OK to figure out this part of our business as we go and to make the necessary changes along the way.

Another good piece of this puzzle is we almost have our Check-in/Store design completed. We figured out a good layout, with our storage and office connected to the building. We made decisions on what way the floor plan should flow and which side the covered porch will be on and where the outdoor seating will go. We decided where the doors will go, and the window placement to optimize the morning sun and not the warm afternoon sun in the store. We chose a nice, easy ramp for wheelchair accessibility and where the outdoor ice freezer will go.

This is getting me super-excited as I can finally “see” what this building should look like! We decided this area should have a little more WOW factor as it will be the first thing you see when you enter the campground. As soon as it gets approved through the Building Permit Department, I’ll post the final drawings for you to see.

We are in constant work mode most days – with either cleaning up downed limbs or working on paperwork for our SBA Loan. Lately, the days and nights are running long as we figure out how to build our campground.

There is a TON more work to do with getting our SBA fully funded as you have to be pretty precise in your cost analysis – each subcontractor has to put together pricing for their work and we have to submit it to the bank. This takes time, as we JUST got our revised site plan back today. Now we can forward it to our General Contractor and he can bid out the plumbing and the rest of the work that we did not get bids for yet.

I am thankful I have a cousin who owns his own commercial electrical company. He came out this week to walk the property and give us a price on digging trenches, putting utilities underground (they are on overhead power poles now), pulling wire, connecting them to the RV pedestals, and overall getting electricity to each location in the campground that needs light. He then gets to meet with our Navajo County electric company (Navopache Electric Cooperative) and, together, they can come up with a plan on how to light up our campground.

Of course we pay the fees to each party involved and I pray it won’t take months to get it all figured out. The snow is coming and one thing I do know is water and electricity don’t work well together. We already had our first 24-degree morning and, boy, were we NOT ready for that! Luckily we warmed right back up and those temperatures can stay away for another couple of months as far as we’re concerned.

One good thing we were able to do was to sneak away for a weekend to the valley with Jenna and our grandbabies! It was so nice to get out and relax and swim and spend time with them. We miss seeing them like we used to before we moved, and this definitely was a much-needed reconnection for all of us.

Thank you for following our campground journey and, as always, See you in the Trees!

And please leave a comment!

AJ, Machelle and Jenna

Read previous articles here.

Machelle James and her husband, AJ, are building, from the ground up, a 15-acre RV park in Heber-Overgaard, Arizona, in the beautiful White Mountains 140 miles from Phoenix. Follow them on Facebook @ AJ’s Getaway RV Park or on Instagram at ajsgetawayrvpark.



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Robert Steigerwalt
1 year ago

We have been spending our summers up there for about 8 years but now are anchored down in the heat. Please let us know when we can book 1 week a month in the summer to get out of the heat, hopefully this coming summer. We have been watching your progress since the begining. Best wishes!

2 years ago

Best wishes to you guys. Your business is exciting and not for the faint hearted.

Machelle James
2 years ago
Reply to  Dave

Hi Dave! Oh this is so SO true! So much more than I could ever write. Be flexible and willing to learn! And meet with several people to get their experiences and recommendations!

Ed D.
2 years ago

As always, I enjoy reading about your progress and I can just feel the excitement in your voice as things begin to come together for your Campground! We are excited for you and I can’t wait to come and visit, once it is completed and open! Are you planning on selling Propane? Just a suggestion: Even if you aren’t going to sell propane from a large Tank, think about the small cylinders for Coleman stoves and small tabletop accessories. Well, I look forward to your next “progress report”. See you in the trees!

Machelle James
2 years ago
Reply to  Ed D.

Hello Ed! Yes we are planning on selling those small propane tanks. We also will have propane firepits for rent as we cannot always have wood fires here. And who doesn’t like a campfire while camping?
Thank you for being a continued supporter for our Campground progress!