By Chuck Woodbury
The Good Sam Club was once a quality organization. It was established as a for-profit business but its founding mission was to not only turn a profit but to do so by serving and caring about its members. On occasion, the club lobbied Congress, state legislatures and other organizations about important legislation that affected RVers. It published Highways, a quality magazine. It held wonderful rallies. It encouraged the creation of local chapters and helped the organizers better serve their members.
The new Good Sam Club, under Marcus Lemonis, has minimized the club to what it is today, a discount club for Camping World, Gander Outdoors and Overton’s stores, and practically nothing else. In an industry interview shortly after acquiring the club Lemonis referred to members as “marketing tools.” If you’re a Good Sam member that’s how much he cares about you. He’s got bigger fish to fry than little ol’ you and me.
The only real benefit left to members is a 10 percent discount at Camping World, Gander Mountain and Overton’s stores, and participating Good Sam RV parks. A park pays a fee to fly the Good Sam flag and is then encouraged to advertise in the fat Good Sam campground directory, which is packed with ads, making it a cash cow for Lemonis.
If you visit the Good Sam Club’s website, you will see almost nothing about the club’s social benefits. There’s no mention of local chapters or national rallies. The reason there’s no mention of national or even regional rallies is because none remain. Marcus cut them out. Local chapters of the club remain but are gradually disappearing as aging members die or become too feeble to participate.
The club is about selling you things – RVs, RV parts, and member discounts for roadside assistance, RV insurance, warranties … and anything else that Marcus and his cohorts can concoct to transfer money from your pocket to theirs. Hey, sign up for a Camping World Visa card and Marcus can make a buck off you every time you use it.
Watch the official Good Sam video below. UPDATE: A month after we posted this article and the video below, the video was removed. Coincidence? We don’t think so. The video downplayed RVing, focusing instead on fishing, hunting, cycling, tenting, kayaking and boating. Is that what an RV club is about?
SO THE CLUB THAT WAS FOUNDED BY RVers and once cared about them – and not just their pocketbooks – is on its final legs. It’s morphed into a discount club, that’s it. If you shop enough at Camping World and/or stay at more than a half dozen Good Sam RV parks a year, then a membership is probably worth the $29. If not, save your money.
Why do I even care about all this? Marcus Lemonis, after all, is entitled to every penny he legally earns. I am simply upset that he has destroyed a once-vibrant club and used its members to build an empire that with each passing month has less to do with RVing and more to do with Marcus.
I wish you could watch the video below, but, like I said, Good Sam removed it after we posted this article.