By Nanci Dixon
I had the pleasure of talking with Alicia Lawson about their new RV resort, Time Away RV Resort in Lincoln, Alabama. Alicia and her husband, Nathan, are resurrecting a neglected and unused campground from the weeds up. They were just 10 days from their grand opening and Nathan was busy handling one emergency after another. But Alicia was gracious enough to spend her very valuable time telling me a little bit about their dream park.
This will be one of the largest Black-owned RV resorts in the nation. Alicia and Nathan are committed to it being a safe, inclusive and friendly place for all. There are 100 pull-through full-hookup sites, a play area, a dog park, shower house, laundry facilities, walking paths, a family swimming pool and high-speed Wi-Fi.
Alicia and Nathan were looking for a new adventure
Alicia mentioned that they had followed money guru Suze Orman’s advice and had been successful in the housing market after owning a trucking company for 30 years. They were looking for a new adventure, retirement plan and a legacy to leave their grandchildren. They have even named the streets for them, Lachelle and Amira.
The Lawsons had been looking at potential places for three years. They had three bits of criteria: 1. that it was close to a highway, 2. that it was in the South, and 3. that they could pay for it in cash. Just when they were about to give up, they found this one in Lincoln, Alabama, and haven’t turned back! It met all their criteria and as an added bonus was within walking distance to the Talladega Speedway. The Lawsons needed to literally start from the ground up and add 50-amp electric service, pads, streets, sewer and water. They even needed to find the old dump station before they could build a new one!
Input from RVers while building the RV resort
Nathan and Alicia are avid RVers and are lending their 30 years of camping experience to building the resort. They have gone one step further and at each phase of building have invited RVers to test out the park. The Lawsons have been able to make changes based on that feedback. Early on they found out that the turns into the campsites were too tight for long vehicles towing. They were able to alter the campsite turns. They also realized that kids at the campground were getting bored. So she knew that they needed to build a play area and family swimming pool. Wouldn’t it be great if all campgrounds did that kind of real-world market research?
I asked Alicia about being an African American couple starting an RV resort in a deep south state and if there were any concerns. She said that she has been asked that multiple times and replies that people are people everywhere. She added that having an RV park that could be open year-round and nowhere near the snow of home state Ohio was a priority. Alicia said that their first stop after putting a bid on the property was to go to the local police station and introduce themselves and their plans. They have had enormous support from the local residents, businesses and civic leaders. Community and business members are stepping up and asking what they can do to help.
Building an RV resort during a pandemic had its own set of challenges. Not only were they affected by lack of available parts due to COVID, but they needed to keep a construction crew going while restrictions shifted.
This is a service family with a special place in their hearts for veterans
Nathan was in the service for 12 years, as was their son, Terrance, and daughter, Shirley. They have a special place in their hearts for veterans. During the grand opening month of June, people are able to pay for a camping spot and donate it to a veteran, insuring a lifetime camping rate freeze of $40 per night. They are also creating a brick path to honor veterans. Bricks can be purchased and are personalized to honor a veteran or someone special.
To read more about the Time Away RV resort and the Lawsons’ journey, or to book a site, visit their website.