Ah.. the Big Tent. What some might say is the Center Camp of Quartzsite, the big draw of bringing together vendors and buyers.
The main official selling area is held inside.. you guessed it.. a big tent.
Moved to the south side of the city some years ago to provide more parking options (not that you can really tell) as the event grew. In years past, the big tent was dedicated to the RV Show for a good part of January, and every year the selling season has been getting shorter and shorter.
This year, it opened on Saturday the 17th and closed on Sunday the 25th – just over a week.
We timed our Quartzsite visit to be there just before opening, and made our exodus mid-week. We opted not to have the full on experience of opening day chaos, and instead waited to visit on Tuesday. We were hoping for lower crowds and easier parking.
After circling the parking ‘lot’ for nearly 20 minutes and getting almost stuck in a pit of gravel.. we finally found a spot just about when we were ready to give up. We shuck off the aggregation as best we could, and off to the tent we went with our shopping list.
The vendors range from representatives of various RVing clubs – from caravanning adventures, Workamper News and Escapees. To those selling RVing gear you might need – LED lights, tank monitoring and tire monitoring systems being the most prevalent.
Then there are those selling gear that is not exactly directly RV related, and more like general flea mall vending – soaps, lotions, hair supplies, microfiber towels, pet supplies, tools, kitchen gadgets, clothing and more.
In years past, as we’re told, the vending was more focused on RVing specific gear and services. We heard a lot of expressed disappointment with how general the shopping has become today.
We did pretty well with our timing, and while the crowds were thick – we were able to get some quality shopping done, and some items crossed off our list.
But the shopping is not only contained to the Big Tent, there’s a general flea mall just outside the tent called the Tyson Wells area, with even more vendors of all sorts.
This area is open throughout most of the winter season. We did visit here a couple times before the Big Tent opened.
There’s other flea mall style areas tucked around town as well, but we were shopped out and didn’t visit them all. We’ve heard buzz that prices around town this year where higher than in the past, and combined with the high local sales tax of around 10% – didn’t make Quartzsite nearly the bargain shopping mecca it once was.
So what loot did we come home with? Here’s the scoop…
FlagPole Buddy Upgrades: We love our flagpole system – it has been working out very well as a WiFi and Cellular antenna mount and for displaying our custom ‘road the infinity’ wireless flag. We wanted some upgrades. The folks there had sent us mounting kits for both their 1.0 and 2.0 sizes, but only the 1.0 pole. We’ve decided that the 2.0 will do better for taller mounting, easier stowing and the ability to lock the positioning in place. So we purchased the 22′ pole to complete the 2.0 kit. And we added on a solar charging globe light beacon to place on top. We’re excited to get it all setup!
Happy Camper Holding Tank Treatment: We were introduced to Happy Camper a while back and have been using it for years. While we’ve not done any sort of comparative analysis between tank holding treatments (we’ll focus on the tech side of RVing, thanks) – we’ve heard from many other trusted RVing friends that this stuff is the best. And hey, we’ve had no complaints – we don’t have much odor at all, and all systems are working as intended. We found their booth at the Big Tent, and stocked up on another 40oz jar, which will keep us .. ummm.. moving for several months.
Blue Ox Coiled Cable: We bought our Mini Cooper from friends who were already towing it flat with Blue Ox base plate installed. The 4-wire coiled cable used for connecting the lights to the bus was getting frayed and a bit uncoiled. We found a vendor who was selling just the cable so we can swap out the connectors ourselves – saving us about $30.
RV LED Reading Lights: We had two reading light fixtures in our bedroom that we wanted replacements for. We were thrilled to find vendors who carried more than just LED lightbulbs, but also a variety of fixtures. We picked up two of these lights by Green LongLife in brushed nickel finish for just $19/each, complete with LED bulbs… not bad at all!
Hipklip Pocket: I’m always on the search for fun holders of my mobile tech. I don’t like carrying a purse most of the time if I can avoid it, and I don’t always wear clothing that has pockets. When we stumbled across the Hipklip booth, I was intrigued. These little pocket holders are perfect sized to hold a smartphone and my point-n-shoot camera and come with great little clips that can attach to any waist band – no belt loops or straps needed. And they come in a wide variety of fabrics and leather. I’ve been pretty happy with it, it’s a great hiking companion!
Smelly Soaps: We were also on the hunt for a particular natural soap vendor that our friend Paul wanted a re-stocking from (he loves his scented soaps!). We had fun video chatting Paul into the shop to pick out his soaps (if only FaceTime supported Smell-o-Vision!). We took his recommendation and picked up a couple bars from Sunset Beach Products as well.. and are really enjoying them! They’re all natural, vegan and use essential oils.
We also picked up a couple other items in various shops – tools, new sheets, sun glasses and I got a new hat which you’ll see photos of in our next post on the social side of Quartzsite.
All and all.. shopping in Quartzsite was a success, and was worthwhile making the effort. There was only a slight difference in the variety of products offered than we’ve seen at some of the RV rallies we’ve been to, which was just enough for us to find some of the products we were seeking.