The fast-fading Good Sam Club

26

By Chuck Woodbury
EDITOR

I was browsing through some really old issues of RVtravel.com and came across this news item about the Good Sam Club from March 17, 2002.


That was more than 17 years ago. That’s before Marcus Lemonis came along in 2006 and began remaking Good Sam into a discount club for Camping World and later, Gander Outdoors (quickly evolving into Gander RV). Before 2006, the Good Sam RV Club really was an RV club.

Under Lemonis’ leadership it has gradually morphed from its original mission to serve RVers into aggressively hawking products and services to them including RVs themselves. The club no longer has a big national rally or even regional rallies, no member magazine, and does virtually nothing to benefit RVers that doesn’t benefit Lemonis and his gang more. The club has very few local chapters left, and those that remain are dying along with their aging members.

Now, the latest development: Lemonis no longer even includes the world “RV” in some descriptions of the club. Here is how it is described in a recent email from Gander RV.

If you read that statement carefully, you realize it’s just a bunch of meaningless mumbo-jumbo gobbledygook.

And so, at RVtravel.com we officially bid farewell to what was once America’s largest club for RVers, one that even though it was from the get-go a “for-profit” business, devoted significant effort toward improving the RVing experiences of its members.

We will no longer include Good Sam in our directories of RV clubs, and will typically mention it only in historical references. In its present form, the Good Sam Club focuses on selling insurance, extended warranties, roadside assistance programs and offers a 10% discount at Camping World and Gander RV. An annual membership ($29) provides members with a 10% camping discount at more than 2,400 RV parks across the country, which is likely the main benefit to most members.

Most of the benefits are available elsewhere for the same price or less.

##RVT907

26
Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

  Subscribe  
newest oldest most voted
Notify of
Paul S Goldberg

I am a Life member of Good Sam to my great distress. This was the first club I joined when we started RVing in 2001. Today I have no use for the membership except for the occasional 10% camping discount which in most cases equals the tax on the fee. Although I accept the discount, it does not play into my choice of parks like Passport America or Escapee at 50% do.

I used to look forward to finding a Camping World and browsing the candy store, now I wait for a large dealership with a well stocked store or if I need the part, Amazon!

Stephen C

I recently went to local CW to buy a new Progressive 34950 surge protector. With “membership discount” my price would have been $450. I went to local United RV store and bought same product for $380. Enough said about great membership benefits from CW/GS.

Bill C.

I don’t mind Camping world and I belong to good sam club and have for many years. When Camping world started selling RV’s, no longer can you make a stop with your RV while traveling for things needed along your journey because there is no room to maneuver a rig on their grounds anymore. They used to have RV parking , generally on the side while you go in and pick up supplies. That could be one of the contributors to camping worlds failure.

Joe Carriker

I get five cents off per gallon on gas at Pilot and Flying J . Camping World is handy when I need something in a hurry. I didn’t buy my travel trailer from them. I get eleven to twelve miles per gallon towing my travel trailer. Breaking even maybe. I will check with Pilot and Loves about discounts before I renew.

Gary

I’m currently a Good Sam member but will no longer be once it runs out. The only benefit I’ve received is the discount at CW and Gander, where I get an over the counter discount on something I can buy cheaper elsewhere anyway.

Seann

Sad to say I am a good sam life member, that was before Marc Lemon took it over. Wish I could get my life membership fee back…

John

I have been a Good Sam member for about 8 years so far, and here in Mich we have two State Rallies
and being part of Ohio Region each state has 2-3 state rallies each, most of these are 80-90 dollars for Thurs-Sun camping and this is full hook up. I wish I could do a FMCA camp one time but I cant afford the rallies of 300-500 dollars they charge, so we go to the State Rallies
around here and have lots of fun, So far I don’t see where they are loosing people

Carson Axtell

Kudos to Chuck Woodbury for taking the time to expose the cynical, money-grubbing maneuvering of people like Lemonis who take control of sincere member-oriented clubs like Good Sam and turn them into “sheep in wolves’ clothing” operations that are then steered towards preying on the membership rolls. Good-natured altruistic activities like RVing to commune with nature and other campers should not be exploited by the greedy just to increase their personal bank accounts…

TIM

Not so fast there, the club is still wonderful on the state and local level. The Ohio club has three rallies per year. The states connecting with Ohio also have state rallies. There are many active chapters including the one we belong to. Our chapter has 5 to 7 campouts per year plus a Thanksgiving dinner, Christmas dinner, and three other winter dinner gatherings.

It is an atrocity what Lemonis has done to the club on the national level, but we are hanging on in Ohio.

Karen Barrett

some years ago we were more involved with various RV clubs and traveled a lot. We also did work camping in Wyoming several summers As I recall, during that time, I was approached by someone affiliated with Good Sam and the magazine/parks directory etc – they were looking for ‘reviewers’ – to do articles about parks all over the country. Sounded interesting, but upon further discussion, I was definitely given the slant that the articles MUST be written showing off the ‘paying park subscribers’ to best advantage – basically, ‘write good stuff, because they won’t pay to advertise if you sound even a little bit negative’. Having just experienced a park that definitely wasn’t up to even minimum standards, I decided best to NOT get involved–the particular park advertised facilities and amenities that were not there.

David Hacker

Chuck,

Please give it a rest. Your vendetta against Lemonis is getting old. You don’t like him & we all understand that. He is in the business of making money just like every businessman. His companies are still supplying a 10% discount on certain campgrounds & 10% off items at his RV parts stores. Those are services to RVers. People don’t always have time to shop around for parts or wait for Amazon delivery. 10% is 10%. Better than nothing. It’s the same old story … don’t pay for a membership if you don’t think it’s worth it. Nobody is twisting your arm.

MrDisaster

We use GS discounts when possible. In the last two years we have found that most of the parks we used also gave a similar discount for AAA or AARP, so the camping benefit isn’t what it once was. I do use the CW catalog to look for items but often shop locally (Independent shops) or Amazon (if I have some time). Their prices are often quite a bit more than others shops.

Lee Shaffer III

Good Sam Club made his company “the category-killer.”
“That’s really how we make our money,” he said.

Mad Money Jim Cramer sits down with Camping World CEO Marcus Lemonis
2018/06/06

Jason Cole

Chuck, Here in the Northeast region we strive to keep GS alive. With Rally’s in almost every State and Province from May through September along with a Regional event known as the Northeast Region Camping Charity Fall Fest held at Normandy Farms Campground which is growing annually. I’m not sure all your facts are correct. We may not have the support we once had from the corporate side but that does not mean we have lost our Good Sam spirit of taking care of our community and giving back to other.

Regards,

Jason Cole
R.I. Good Sam State Director
Northeast Region Camping Charity President

Captn John

I tried Passport America and found too few CGs participating in my travels or were not available during my travel times. Also tried Escapees, would be great west but not so much in the East. On my 1st and last KOA membership. With discounts I’m still much better off with GS. I would like to find something better but not out there for me.

Bill T

The demographic is shifting and so is business. If you want to buy in to it then do, if you don’t then don’t.

Jeff Carpenter

I think this analysis really misses the mark. It seems clear that Marcus is shifting the organization from a narrow niche focused on the RV lifestyle into a broader outdoor recreation and lifestyle brand of which the RV lifestyle is still a part. Now it just incompasses people that like to RV but also like to hike and canoe and participate in all kinds of other outdoor recreational activities. That makes complete sense given the younger demographic that is entering the RV lifestyle and the popularity of smaller RVs that are used to support an outdoor focused lifestyle.

The article reads very hostile and I don’t understand that perspective. I think you have to accept that the traditional interests of RVers is shifting. You have to consider the reality that some of the things that this article complains that Good Sam is no longer supporting or contributing to is very likely due to the fact the popularity of those kinds of events are in decline.

Whether Good Sam is dying or not depends entirely on its revenue and its membership numbers. It’s unfair to call it dying just because it’s no longer doing some of the things that a certain generation of RVer preferred to do.

Noel Johnson

You have got it exactly right. That is why our Camping club dropped out of the Good Sams organization. We paid annual fees, with no benefit to the group.