SEFFNER — For 37 years, Lazydays has maintained a grip on the RV market with its ever-growing, expansive headquarters located within eyesight of Interstate 4 near Mango Road.
Customers from as far away as Alaska have traveled to the mini mecca to purchase everything from small pop-up travel trailers to toy haulers and luxurious fifth wheels.
A lot has changed since the days when a gallon of gas was a mere 45 cents. Diesel engines have increased fuel economy in the RVs. Technology, including convection microwave ovens, flat screen televisions and smartphone apps, have boosted the ownership experience. And competition for the leisure time dollar has grown.
As a response to these market trends, Lazydays opened the Better RVing Store on March 15.
Customers can expect to go beyond the car dealer look and find parts, upgrade options, services they have longed for or some they may not have known about.
"We got in the parts and service business not just to be in the parts and service business," said Bill Tickel, parts and services manager. "We had customers who wanted to buy things that we just didn't carry."
Situated on 124 acres with a team of 492 employees, 221 service bays, 299 campsites and three restaurants, a retail store was a natural progression and one Tickel says the Lazydays team batted around for years.
So Lazydays renovated the former customer lounge and turned it into an open-design store. It also renovated a new customer lounge inside near the offices and training center.
Tickel said the layout was customer driven with a good shopping experience in mind, so don't expect department store aisles or a cavernous warehouse feel. The Better RVing store carries necessities for any coach, as they are called.
It also offers items you might not expect such as outdoor camping accessories, pet owner needs and even some home-grown Florida crafts.
"We did not want to abandon our customers to an operation that could not supply them," Tickel said.
A main competitor is Camping World, which has an adjacent location and used to have a cooperation agreement with Lazydays to supply parts and accessories. Camping World terminated that agreement in June 2012.
Tickel said Lazydays wanted to make sure there was something available for every type of customer, right down to the toilet paper on the shelves for those who are visiting for meetings, rallies, educational seminars or vacations.
For every new flooring option, Lazydays also offers safety courses; for every recliner, mattress, cabinet and window shade there are "how to" classes. Lazydays, which operates a second location in Tucson, Ariz., has a pipeline to big manufacturers for special order "hard parts" needed for repairs.
Whether you prefer a Class A RV, or a towable, which Tickel says is the fastest growing coach segment, Lazydays offers its customers a variety of equipment and educates them on how to use it before hitching up and pulling away.
"We have a commitment to the customer experience," Tickel said.
The store is located at 6130 Lazy Days Blvd., Seffner. Hours are Monday-Friday 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Saturday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday noon to 5 p.m. Call (866) 317-4019.
What's new at Westfield Brandon?
Westfield Brandon mall has a few new tenants and a few more on the horizon, said marketing director Dawn Arvidson.
Skechers footwear is in center court near the Disney store.
Pro Image Sports opened its first Florida location in the mall in December near Sears.
Chic offers fashion accessories for women at a location near Dillard's. The store went from a temporary tenant to signing a long-term lease last month.
Entourage, featuring fashions and selections for men, has opened near Macy's.
Stores under construction include Crocs shoes and sandals and Orogold, an anti-aging cosmetics line that will be located near Dick's Sporting Goods.
Finally, Chipotle Mexican Grill is scheduled to open in the summer in the food court.
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