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Operating an RV park: We have a billboard! And ice – almost!

By Machelle James
This moment in our lives is so surreal, I have goosebumps sharing it with you. As new business owners, you sometimes forget the pain you went through while building your business. While we are still technically building, we are open for business and still trying to get our name out there.

Something magical happened

Well, today, something magical happened. Our campground billboard was installed along the highway and we didn’t even know it! We had several people drive in and turn around and leave, but that is pretty normal once they see our STOP sign. However, when AJ went to Ace Hardware later that day, he saw our MASSIVE billboard and pulled over to take a picture. He came back home with a wickedly huge grin and I knew something was up. He showed me the photo and I was speechless! How did that happen without us knowing? I was so excited to see it, but I couldn’t leave the Campground yet as I was with guests.

An hour later, I jumped in the truck, drove down the highway, looking for a place to pull over. I was tense. Is this really happening? Do we really have our business on a BILLBOARD? As I pulled over to the parking area, I was shocked at how BIG it is! I stared through the windshield and my eyes filled with tears. How the heck did we do this? How the heck did we pull it off?

Our billboard along the highway!

I fumbled for my phone to take a picture and I jumped out of the truck with so much gusto, I was practically walking on air! As the cars drove by, I was waving, I was jumping up and down, I was pointing at the billboard, giving fake high fives to pretend hands. They probably thought I was crazy, but I didn’t care. There we are for the whole world to see—and what a brilliant way to show the world you are open for business!

Phones at the park have been ringing off the hook

After the celebration that evening, our phones have been really been ringing off the hook. It’s been a mix of calls of folks wanting to live here and those who want to come here for vacation getaways. We have folks that drive in wanting a tour of the place for a future vacation, and those that live nearby that want to have their friends and family stay here. Regardless, that billboard is working!

AJ and I have been busy working on the underground conduit, working inside the park store and ordering inventory. We had to pull mule tape through 600 feet of conduit for fiber-optic to be used for our upgraded Wi-Fi system. That was hilarious in itself, and our concerned campers and retired electricians offered their expertise to make it easier for us.

Apparently, the trick is to use a shop vac to suck the string through the conduit to one end.  Well, we learned that a shopping bag, tied to the end of thin string, works as a weight to pull the string to the other end with the shop vac on. Then, you suck back the feed of string, with the wire you need, attached to the string. When the string comes back, you have to manually pull up the wires through a conduit pipe and pray the string doesn’t break. (It didn’t, but it sure felt like it would!)

We did this at least 20 times, with only 6 times being successful. We did this same process for the electrical wire and the CAT6 wire to our house. Some of you know what I am talking about. It was frustrating yet very satisfying when we figured out how to make it work!

Tongue-and-groove ceiling looks good!

AJ installed the tongue-and-groove ceiling in the park store and WOW, does it look good! He cut out the areas for lights and made ceiling fan holders for the HUGE fans we bought.

We also had the electric company out here to green tag our meter box and to energize the circuit that comes into the store. What that means is that we should have electricity to the store in a day or two! Oh, how nice it will be to turn on a light switch and not have electrical cords all over the place!

It also means we can have the ice freezer delivered and we can start selling ice from the porch (which is where it will stay).

Partnerships for merchandise in the park store

Our partnership with KnucKL-EyeZ!

Another announcement is that we just partnered with a company called KnucKL-EyeZ to sell quality goggles that are made for off-roading, skiing, trail riding, etc. We are over the moon about this, as the goggles we have now are terrible with the dirt that gets inside the lens and then gets inside your eyes. These will not do that, we were told. And we have had many other happy customers tell us the same thing! We have three more partnerships coming and we will announce those as soon as all the merchandise arrives!

As we prepare for Mother’s Day weekend, we will have surprises for our Mom’s that will be here to celebrate them as they stay with us. We also want to make sure we wish our Mom’s out there a very Happy Mother’s Day. May you get to relax, enjoy some good food and do whatever you want for your special day!

Thank You for following our Campground Journey and See You in the Trees!

And please leave a comment!

AJ, Machelle and Jenna

Read previous articles here.

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

##RVT1051

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Neal Davis
8 days ago

Wow! Sooo cool! Congratulations!

Machelle James
5 days ago
Reply to  Neal Davis

Hi Neal! Thank You! We are getting there!!!

Suru
9 days ago

Congratulations on your success and thank you for sharing your joy!

Machelle James
5 days ago
Reply to  Suru

Hi Suru! Thank You so much for your support!!

Sherry
10 days ago

So nice to watch dreams come true.

Machelle James
9 days ago
Reply to  Sherry

Hi Sherry! Thank you for your kind words! We worked HARD to get here 😊😊😊

Diane Mc
10 days ago

How exciting. Could feel the joy your are experiencing through your writing. Great sign! Happy Mother’s Day to you!

Machelle James
9 days ago
Reply to  Diane Mc

Hi Diane! I’m so happy you could feel my joy! I wrote that immediately after I came back as I didn’t want to leave out any emotions I was feeling in that moment! Happy Mother’s Day to you too!

Thomas D
10 days ago

I sincerely hope as you progress that you continue to write about the trials and tribulations you experience. It’s been interesting following you the last, what, 2years. My only thought right now is why did you not call it AJ&M’S.

The sign, I see Jones
Their motto, “Jones made signs before he could talk”

Machelle James
9 days ago
Reply to  Thomas D

Hi Thomas! I will write as long as they let me! I actually named the Campground after completing marketing research of names. AJ’s won as is always at the top of an alphabetical list, and people say, ” OH, we’re staying at AJ’S “. It has a nice flow and it rhymes.. so it truly was a business decision. 😊

Bob M
10 days ago

Have a Happy Mother’s Day Machelle.

Machelle James
10 days ago
Reply to  Bob M

Thank You so much Bob!

Ed D.
10 days ago

Oh yeah, HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!

Machelle James
10 days ago
Reply to  Ed D.

Thank You!!!

Ed D.
10 days ago

Machelle,
You are right, the Ceiling looks beautiful. AJ is a good Carpenter apparently. It seems he is an all around handyman. I guess that is what is needed to undertake the building of an RV Park from scratch. I believe you are getting to the finish line just in time, as the prices of things continue to rise and the availability is getting scarce. The Park where we have our stationary 5th Wheels, is experiencing trouble acquiring the items he needs for his Electric Meters on the new sites he has cultivated. I don’t know where all of this will lead but I sure hope something positive happens in the near future.
The weather here in NC has been a little gloomy the last few days but even so, I still love looking out from my deck at the Lake and Mountains that surround us. I hope the weather is good out your way and it co-operates for you guys while you finish up your remaining chores you need to complete. As always, I wish you guys all the best and hope to see you there soon.

Machelle James
10 days ago
Reply to  Ed D.

Hi Ed! Yes he a VERY handy guy! We purposely bought 5 extra water spigots and 5 pedestals as we thought people would run them over.
I hear now it 6 months for pedestals and electric boxes! We had to improvise with our electric boxes for the store to pass inspection. Thank you for Moms Day wishes!

Tim
10 days ago

Wow! Fiber optic. Nice.

Machelle James
10 days ago
Reply to  Tim

FINALLY…. you have no idea how hard it is to get Internet up here!

Don
10 days ago

Good Morning Machelle, Jenna and AJ,
I used to pull telecom fiber into buildings in New Orleans using the shop vac trick. Thanks for sharing so more folks will know it. Can you tell us how you got the billboard up? Curious to know. Your store ceiling looks amazing! Thanks for sharing your progress so more campers can appreciate what WORK it takes to build and run an RV Park.
Happy Mothers Day!

Machelle James
10 days ago
Reply to  Don

Hi Don-Thank You! I had no idea about that trick, but it sure works! We used JONES Outdoor Advertising. We had the ad designed by our friend and the Billboard company (Jones) installed it. It looks likes individual panels that they installed up there.

Joe Allen
11 days ago

The billboard looks great as does the tongue and groove ceiling! Billboard is easy to read, which is a plus. Congrats! Sure hope we can visit on our next trip out west! Our best to you both!

Machelle James
10 days ago
Reply to  Joe Allen

Hi Joe! Thank You! We love meeting our readers- please do come by when you’re in AZ!

David F.
11 days ago

If we are ever out your way, will be stopping in for sure

G13
11 days ago
Reply to  David F.

I second that.

Machelle James
10 days ago
Reply to  G13

AWESOME!!! Please do!

Machelle James
10 days ago
Reply to  David F.

Hi David! We would love to have you come in! Please let us know if you are in the area!