Business

New business gets tow-hold in SK

For everyone who’s ready to get off the ground without having to get into a recreational vehicle, Michael Johnson has a solution for you.

Johnson owns Tent-Trailers Northwest, a new retail store that opened March 15 at 120 Harrison Ave. in downtown Port Orchard, specializing in the tent-trailer market.

“It’s really been a niche market (in the past),” Johnson said. “It’s really been geared toward the off-road guys just because they’re so rugged. Mainstream U.S.A. is where you buy a tow vehicle and you go to an RV dealership.”

Johnson hopes to get people out of that mindset, hoping to turn the Kitsap Peninsula onto the Cub and Quicksilver lines of tent-trailers. He is offering both those manufacturers now in his showroom and hopes to add a third maker in the future.

But for now, it’s the Cub and Quicksilver lines that will have people roaming the Washington back country in style and comfort. And in ease.

All the units Johnson sells are designed with the everyday consumer in mind — the units are lightweight and easy to set up.

“Twelve-hundred — that’s the magic number, being that 98 percent of the automobiles out there and tow up to 1,200 pounds,” Johnson said. “Of course there are many out there that can tow more, but 1,200 seems to be the magic number.”

One of the many aspects of the Cub campers customers find appealing is the weight — or lack of it — on most of the trailers. The smallest unit, which can sleep two comfortably, weighs just 520 pounds and can be pulled by a motorcycle or, if equipped with special ski mounts, a snowmobile.

Cub, which has been making the units for 37 years, manufactures the trailers in pieces in Australia and the units are shipped to the United States, where they are assembled in a warehouse.

Johnson said the units have become known as flip-over campers due to the ease of design. Each camper actually flips out turning the top of the trailer into the floor of camper.

The units, built out of galvanized steel, are completely set up in a matter of seconds.

“In Northwest weather, that can be a real big plus,” Johnson said.

The campers are also adjustable and add to the ease of the units. Once a unit is opened, its height can be preset by the steel poles inside the canvas top — which is vat-dipped twice to provide a solid water proofing solution — and it will open to the same height each time.

Of the four models available at this time, all are fire-, UV- and mildew-resistant and open to lengths up to 14-feet, six-inches. Each unit can also be used to carry loads on top while being towed, some handling up to 1,000 pounds.

They also come with optional add-on rooms and awnings.

Johnson said the Weekender model has been his biggest and fastest seller so far. It sleeps four adults comfortably, but has a side pull-out kitchen that includes a stainless steel sink, onboard 15-gallon water pump with two cupboards and a place for a portable stove — and a built-in awning.

It’s sister unit, the Vacationer, matches the Weekender but comes without the pull-out kitchen or built in awning.

“The Weekender is the one we can’t keep in stock,” Johnson said.

The Quicksilver line is built in the U.S. and goes with the all-aluminum body that comes in a variety of colors.

Johnson is hoping to have his showroom completed by the first week in April, having all the Cub models inside to show along with many of the accessories that can be used with the Cub campers.

“We’ve found that everyone seems to want something in particular, either on them or not on them,” Johnson said. “So we build everything just that way. We show them as best we can what we think the customer would like to see and then, the sky’s the limit.”

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