Leave it to TV reality star Marcus Lemonis to bring a festive atmosphere to the new Camping World store on Friday.
The CEO of the company — which recently took over the Tom Raper RV stores in London, Fairfield and Richmond, Ind. — quipped quickly with audience responses to his questions.
And the laughter was raucous.
Lemonis is the star of CNBC’s “The Profit,” a reality show about saving small businesses.
His base of operation is in Chicago for the recreational vehicle stores which span coast to coast, but he took time on Friday to visit Fairfield and London, which coincidentally held its ribbon cutting ceremony with the Madison County Chamber of Commerce at the same time.
While in town he wanted to make his customers feel welcome by giving away camping gear.
With a question of which couple has been married the longest — to the same person (cue laughter) — he located Jeanne and Wayne Bloomfield of London. Lemonis rewarded their 58 years of marriage with a $500 gift shopping spree in the store.
Wayne complimented Camping World’s makeover of the location at U.S. Route 42 and I-70.
“They did a great job on the store,” Bloomfield said.
Married in 1957, the Bloomfields spend part of the year in Florida, where they shop the Camping World store in Dover.
Lemonis praised their loyalty to one another and said loyalty is hard to find in this day and age.
In an effort to build loyalty to Camping World, Lemonis made a plea for feedback from customers.
“I encourage you to give us feedback,” Lemonis said. “We’re moving fast and spending money.”
Lemonis admitted mistakes have been made.
“But we’re trying to learn how to get better,” he said.
He continued to give away items as he drew names from a basket. A pair of bicycles were headed to Worthington with Mr. and Mrs. Donald Ketter. When she came forward to accept the gift from the CEO, Mrs. Ketter described it as “so cool.”
Marilyn Hawthorn took a file folder and wrote in large black letters “Today is my birthday” a la a daytime TV game show. Lemonis said his session was not a game show, but he called her up to the front of the group anyway.
Everyone applauded when Lemonis said she didn’t look her age, which was announced as 84. The Springfield resident attended the gathering with her daughter and son-in-law, Vicki and James Moore. For his camper, Hawthorn was awarded a $500 gift certificate.
Bob Elliott, general manager, said the store underwent a complete remodel when it was taken over from Tom Raper. The 11,000 square-foot store was the recipient of a $1 million facelift.
The staff numbers 54 which can help customers with everything from the pop-up camper at $5,495 to the diesel-powered bus-size home on wheels at $300,000.
“We have a full scale service department and do warranty work on any manufacturer,” Elliot said. “We’re also doing collision repair.” Camping World can service engines, transmissions as well as HVAC systems.
More information on the company can be found at campingworld.com.
Dean Shipley can be reached at 740-852-1616, ext. 1617, on Facebook at Dean Shipley or via Twitter @DeanAShipley.
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