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RV dealership prefers to think small

Darryl Wilson, left, and Steve Dunphy operate Vantastic Vans. (Glen Rosales/For the Albuquerque Journal)

Darryl Wilson, left, and Steve Dunphy operate Vantastic Vans. (Glen Rosales/For the Albuquerque Journal)

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — When people generally think of RVs, what usually pops into their minds is the mammoth, somewhat intimidating behemoths that are akin to traveling mansions.

But that doesn’t necessarily have to be the case, say Darryl Wilson and Steve Dunphy of Vantastic Vans.

The two are veteran salesmen of recreational vehicles and thought there might be a market for folks who wanted something a little more manageable.

That’s why when they opened Vantastic Vans in 1990, they focused on smaller vehicles.

“We had worked for the larger dealerships and we thought maybe it was time to try it on our own,” Dunphy said. “We specialize in the smaller RV because we thought it would be a nice little niche market.”

It’s actually a rare thing, he said, as there are very few dealerships across the country that do specialize in the smaller RVs.

While space may be a premium in the smaller version, there are numerous benefits, Wilson said.

“It’s easy to drive,” he said. “It’s easy to park. It fits in a regular parking space. It’s fully self-contained.”

Indeed, the mini-RVs are engineering marvels, utilizing every last nook and cranny of space to its maximum benefit.

“These have everything that a 40-foot motor home has, but they’re just easier,” Dunphy said.

A small refrigerator, a commode and shower – with hot water – a stovetop, a microwave and a bed are all tucked into a van chassis.

With the small sized, generally the vehicles offer just one bed, Wilson said, making the units more amenable to retirees.

And gas mileage is surprising benefit, with the smallest version offering 15-18 miles per gallon, he said.

What’s more, the smaller versions don’t depreciate as much “because of the high demand and the short supply,” Dunphy said.

The dealership does carry a limited number of used vehicles, but its primary focus is on new models.

The units are even economical enough that the dealership was able to weather the economic downturn.

“We have a good customer base and we have a solid track record,” Wilson said. “There’s been economic slumps before and we’ve been able to get through them.”

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