By Chuck Woodbury
It’s only a matter of time, in my opinion, before Walmart pulls the plug on free overnight stays in its parking lots. Many stores already do so, and more post “no parking” signs every week. Sometimes they’re enforced, sometimes not. Or sometimes they’re enforced one day and not the next.
For RVers, Walmart has been a godsend at times, providing a place to grab some sleep then move on, and for free. The RVers who stay may be on a tight budget and “free” is a lot better than paying $40 to $50 for a plot of land in an RV park for eight hours. Others stay because nearby campgrounds are packed, the result of the RV industry dumping nearly a half million new RVs onto the landscape each year with no new campsites.
I believe that something will happen soon that will prompt Walmart’s lawyers to say “enough is enough.” It may be a terrible accident in a parking lot, perhaps resulting in a huge lawsuit. Or it could be that parking lots get so jammed with RVs that regular customers will be inconvenienced. And when that happens, where will RVers stay who can’t find a nearby campground? Will it be Target, Sam’s Club, Cabela’s, Costco, rest areas, truck stops? I’m sure it will be all of those and more.
But that will not last either. These places will get overrun.
Here is a letter I found posted on RVillage.com, that got me thinking about this.
“Heading south from Canada to Yuma we always stay at Walmarts with a set of stores we visit routinely at about 250 mile intervals. One of these stores is at Blackfoot, Idaho, or at least it was until this year. Big signs all over the parking lot said “No trailer or RV parking overnight.” I checked with customer service and was told that it was since the eclipse. I called Pocatello, the next Wally south, and they said come on by. But when we got there we saw the same signs. Management said they don’t enforce so we spent the night okay, but still. . .
“After that we were in Washington and Utah, and again, identical signs. We ignored them and stayed over with no problems along with 15 or so neighbours.
“Anyone else seen similar signs cropping up?”