Thursday, May 6, 2010

If RVers Disappear from Quartzsite - what will the future hold?

After "Meet the Incumbents" (or "Incumbants" if you read the Desert Messenger...) it was reported that our current leaders have no real plan to reverse the downward spiral or grow and encourage the tourism industry here. I can't provide exact quotes because recording devices were apparently prohibited, but it was reported by multiple sources that the dialog centered around the belief that we should all accept that Quartzsite's glory days are over and we just need to find "new sources of revenue". I interpret that as higher taxes, increased rates, more fees, more grants with strings attached and co pays we can't afford to match, and fines for anyone they discover is out of compliance. 

At this week's "Meet Your Candidates", hosted By Crawford's Trailer Park, Ed Foster, Russell Sias and Bill Moore had viable ideas for revitalizing tourism (Chaunce Hamilton was forced to call in sick and the incumbents didn't bother to attend). If you have any ideas on this or any other subject, there will be one more open forum on Tuesday the 11th, from 4 - 6 pm at Crawford's Trailer Park, 315 E. Main St. in Quartzsite.

How is Quartzsite viewed by "snow birds" and other travelers who disperse their opinion to the far reaches of the globe? Do people leave here with a positive experience to share with others along their journey, or was the time they spent here a disappointment? If our visitors are leaving here feeling like the fellow who published the following article and accompanying videos, then we are in a public relations crisis for sure!

RVers disappear from Quartzsite in 2009

For many years Quartzsite, Arizona has been a Mecca for winter RVers. One long time vendor at the Big Tent told me, “Ten years ago people were so thick you could smell the BO a block away. Not anymore, now you could shoot a cannonball through the middle and not hit anybody.”

I've visited Quartzsite for the last five years and can attest to the fact that things here have changed. Most old timers I talked with told me Quartzsite has lost its appeal and wasn't any fun anymore.

Speaking with the campground host at Hi Jolly BLM campground I learned RVers are still coming but not staying as long. He told me campers now stay only two or three days where in the past they would stay a full two weeks. He says the cost of sewer disposal and fresh water has gone up. He also reports the city is boosting revenue by handing out more $125 speeding tickets. I did notice two speed traps while traveling about town.

Quartzsite vendors complain rent prices have skyrocketed. They used to pay $150 a month for a patch of dirt and now it averages around $1000 or more a month (depending on the size of the dirt). One long time vendor estimates only half the vendor spaces were rented out this year.Don Lasley is a full time RVer and vendor whose store is called, “Lasley's Country Store.” They travel all over the country doing shows, flea markets and swap-meets. He says Quartzsite, “Has been going downhill for the last four years.” He reports that most vendors didn't do well at all this year and the business is, “Nothing like it used to be.”

Dave Skinner a vendor who owns his own building has been doing business in Quartzsite for 26 years. When he first started property taxes were $700 a year now they are $8,000. When I asked him if business was off, he replied that three years ago he was doing $3,000 per month in sales and now he's lucky if he does two to four hundred. The only way he is able to stay open is because he has a thriving mail order embroidery business. He knows many vendors who will not return next year.

What used to be a crowded marketplace is now largely deserted and the people who do meander by are not spending much money. I did discover a vendor selling a snake. Well..., it was a “Gummy” snake, but hey, it was a sale!Things started changing when the big RV dealerships bought up the property on main street. What used to be a sea of vendor stalls is now a slew of RV dealerships (many of which have gone out of business or are on the brink of bankruptcy). Because of the economy RV sales have dried up. It used to be that the Maytag repairman had the loneliest job in town, but now it's the RV salesman!

City Hall also started squeezing more money out of local businessmen by raising taxes and fees (ten times in the case of permits) and so helped to kill the goose that laid the golden eggs. So if only half the available spaces were rented this year, where did all the vendors go?

Many are still in Arizona but they have congregated at other places setting up shop like in Vicksburg, Arizona. I was here early in the morning before any vendors were open, but this is how the old time Quartzsite started.

It appears to me Quartzsite has lost it's luster and will continue to fade as time marches on. This former gold mine has played out and like many ghost towns of the old west will dry up and blow away with the tumbleweeds.


  1. Well hopefully next year you and your scroungy man can live in Vicksburg and quit bothering the nice citizens of Quartzite with a your crap..

  2. In response to the above comment, if that is your attitude, then we RVers will go elsewhere.

  3. Anonymous,

    I have a question for you. If you think that what is happening around town is such crap why do you read and respond with comments to the blog? If you feel so strong that it is crap then stand up for your self and stop hiding behind anonymous. Unless of course you are part of the problem and embarrassment has you ashamed to. I personally like knowing the other side of the coin. The things that residents go through in Quartzsite should be shared with others and is that not what a community is all about, talking and sharing our trials and tribulations with each other in order to help our neighbor. This is the way I was raised. I do not know who is in charge of the blog but kudos to them for telling the facts and not trying to sugar coat them. We are not mushrooms and don’t need to be fed bullshit.

  4. Yes things are changing, but your pictures don't represent the truth. I was here all season and had a very good year. My best in 5 years! I will be leaving in a couple of days, but I will be back for sure next year, even earlier. You for sure did not take the pictures on a busy weekend. Speak your mind but speak the truth!

  5. It appears that those pictures and text are from the original source, a website called RV Now with Jim Twamley and if you go there, the comments are interesting. It was dated Feb of last year but thanks to the internet it will be public info forever...
    I had a good year too, but I have been working hard at it for a decade now in I've been coming about as long as Twamley. Good thing business for me remains steady because I've given it to my lawyer LOL!!!
    I have to say though that the crowds have been decreasing steadily since the first year I was here, especially the last 4 years like this Twamley guy quotes Don Lasley as saying - which is about the same time period that Huntley has been on the council!!!Only 9 more days - hooray!!!

  6. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  7. Ok, so Skinner's taxes went up. He's been here for 26 years, where can I find a place whereby the taxes don't go up annually for all of those years and using the inflated dollar over time? Of course his taxes went up!

    For people complaining above that business is not what it used to be...where in the USA (or the World) have you noticed that 'business' is as good as it used to be? We have been in a REAL recession for over 2 years now and we are not at the end of it yet. Of course, people are spending less and even with more probability, visitors have cut back coming here and not spending on expensive gas to get here and/or to stay more than a few days because of the cost of this recession. Most people (wherever they are from) are just happy that they have a job and certainly do not want to lose it.

    When, and if, the World can get out of this horrible recession and countless countries stop going bankrupt, then we all can get back to "business". Quartzsite will then see the return of more visitors, more citizens and more profits. We all have to pull in our belts no matter where you live, play or work, even here (of course) in Quartzsite.

  8. Well said Anonymous, nice to see someone has a real handle on the situation. You actually gave me a great idea just for my own curiousity. I would like to do some research and find out how many times this town was thought to fold. I mean after all, this town has been here for a really long time. Anyway, kudo's to you on your insight and intellect.

  9. It's not a question of taxes going up, but what do the taxpayers receive in exchange? The current council is literally writing checks that won't cash, and there's not much to show for almost 5 million in debt except promises of future projects that may never materialize. Blaming the "recession" is a cop out. This Town has been here a really long time, but it has only been incorporated for two decades. Before that, we could blame the County. Now we must accept responsibility for those who are currently in control.

  10. The recession is not a cop-out, it is fact. The recession has kept visitors and vendors alike from coming here as they have in the past. WE would be doing a lot better also IF many vendors, here, or seasonal would pay their sales taxes.

    Yes, AR, Quartzsite has been here a really long time. It is too bad that the mess we're in severely started 9-10 years ago by the then sitting councils. I hope you are aware who those people were. We do. The current Council had nothing to do with those problems. But they have accepted their responsibility, and that is to clean up that horrible mess. It will take time, and yes, we may have to pull in our belts, but it will get cleaned up, they are well on their way. If you want to blame, as clearly you do, blame the former councils of 9-10 years ago. Let's say from 1991 on. That's where all of the problems lay and started back then. Only in the last 7-9 months has this cleaning up process begun, it does take time. Let them finish what they've started. Nothing is more important than Quartzsite, and it is clearly their most important concern.

  11. You cannot blame who is in control now. They are the ones tackling this mountain of problems. In the last ten years, the former Councils have abused the system, yes, they held back water and sewage rates. Yet, when increases by AZ came, they "borrowed" money from the hurf funds and the general funds. Nine to ten years of doing this is what put Quartzsite into "debt", nothing else.

    This Council as a whole had nothing to do with those problems or debts. But, they have accepted the responsibility to clean them up. They should be commended not opposed. We need to come together to take care of this before AZ comes in and takes us over. Some times a little hard times make us stronger in survival. Quartzsite can come back stronger and more viable if we do not let this ever happen again what has happened in the last nine to ten years. We can come back better, and we have been on our way for over six months now. Let them do their job and let us support them in this arduous task. They have done more good in these six months than ever before. The infrastructure has started and will continue.

  12. Quartzsite will "come back stronger and more viable" with Foster in Office.

  13. With what qualifications would Foster bring in? A person who sued (and lost) the Council and Town Manager and cost the Town thousands of dollars that we taxpayers end up paying for also?

    A person who has sued other townspeople? A person who walks around and stares at the walls during Town Meetings? This person does not even become part of the Town's process, only against it.

    How would one single person with a Council count of seven change anything?

    Quartzsite has started its way back to strength and viability, it needs no more "help", thank you.

  14. Geez, Foster didn't sue the Town. Are you a moron or what? I'm sick of this lie. All Ed did was file a legal request that the Council abide by the law. And it wasn't dismissed on it's merit either, the judge said a citizen didn't have legal standing to make the request. The Council cost the people roughly another million in debt this year and you're whining about a couple of thousand you allege it cost to defend their behavior??? I'd say they got off cheap!!!

  15. I was wondering why (as reported by a very good friend of mine) we are having so many problems related to the returning of our valued snowbirds, vendors, shows, and small business dying on the vine here in Quartzsite when Alex Taft was quoted as saying, “We don’t care about the snowbirds, vendors, or businesses in Quartzsite. We get all the money we need from the truck stops”!

    Maybe this is the major reason why Pilot was allowed to hire people (untrained in Hazmat cleanups) to shovel up the oil and diesel fuel that ended up in the wash that passes by the town’s water station on the West side of town. Now this spill was during one of our main rainstorms and was followed down stream. Residence in the trailer park at the Yacht Club became sick from the heavy smell caused by the diesel fuel.

    I was later told from a reliable informant that the reason that the Town of Quartzsite failed to shut down the Pilot Truck Stop until this major spill was cleaned up was, “Because of the fear that they would move out of the Town of Quartzsite and cause a major loss in revenue to the Town.” How will Alex Taft handle the next spill? Just how bad will it have to be before she demands that the State of Arizona step in and force the required Hazmat Regs be followed or will we become the next BP victims?

  16. We have gone to Quartzsite the last three winters. We have been told the place is drying up. But businesses are not helping. Many will not take credit cards. Many rv parks only will reserve for three months. Too many rv sales lots. Poor service in resturants. Businesses need to think about serving customers again.

  17. Evil people love each other. Mwa Mwa Mwa.... I like Arizona, I love the desert, I like Arizona residents. But Q business people are a bunch of snakes. Hey RVers go to Blythe and give them your money but stay away from this rattlesnake pit. I can't wait until you are all bankrupt so that your new boss and manager can buy you all out and keep you as their whipping boys, they'll make you smile as the valued RVer comes into their store (used to be yours) and flashes a buck in your wortheless hateful face. RVers deserve a change of management in the entire town of Q, these business people are a bunch of morons, drunks, hateful deliverance bigots, and much worse. All that hate coming out of your glands what did you expect, its called Karma and its not over until it finally cleaned up by your bankruptcy. When I see change of management (all business owners) at Q then I'll stop at Pilot and flip a coin at them. Until then I'll lobby for a bypass ramp to route around the flea market town to 95 from I-10. BTW nobody is going to buy condos in this dump, your brains are fried as that Yacht Club owner (Go Sailing in a Dry Desert with a Yacht instead of a flea bitten desert schooner) if you think that is going to happen...HA HA HA HA ...NEW MANAGEMENT...NEW TOWNSPEOPLES.. Same old RVers

  18. Well we are going to try it one more year!!??
    Sure hope it is a better experience than last year. I think we will eat in RV more. Last year we went to all you can eat fish. Guess how many fish we got. One piece each. Thats all they had!! In JANUARY!! What kind of business is that?

  19. How dumb that Quartzsite people who rant such hate to RVers, can't see that the RVers are their bread and butter. We have taken our business elsewhere. We might just be one RVer but with more it adds up. Change your attitude and quit telling the RVers to get out and take the shortest exit. How stupid that you all can't figure it out. You have lost a LOT of business from us alone.

  20. Well, we had enough of the anti RVer attitude in Quartzsite and after years and thousands of dollars, have moved on to other pastures. We no longer felt welcome in the town, in fact on several occasions, felt threatened by locals and the Police. Quartzsite will be dead within 5 or 6 years.

  21. What does everyone think about the city council stuff going on in Quartzite? I hear many are cancelling reservation for this winter. We are not sure what to do.

  22. Come, please! Vendors are arriving and things are just beginning to be fun. I would doubt that our current officials are going to be in control by New Years at the rate things are going!