LORRAINE — Although the business of camping has changed year to year, one local business has rolled with those changes and is now celebrating 60 years of business in the South Jefferson community.
“I think in this area we (Wratten’s) are less likely to be affected by the economy because there is so much to do in an 80 mile radius with the Finger Lakes, St. Lawrence River, Lake Ontario, Canada, Adirondacks. It’s easy to camp all over and see many different things,” said James Wratten, owner of Wratten Trailer Sales.
In 1959, A.E. Wratten opened the business — located on Route 11 between the towns of Adams and Ellisburg — with three trailers and a truck. When A.E. retired, his sons James and Fred took partnership of the business and eventually James took full ownership.
According to James, “there wasn’t much to a trailer in 1959, compared to today.”
The travel-trailers in 1959 were small and simple but provided comforts including a bed off the ground and other simple luxuries like an ice box.
“Now they’re spacious with washers and dryers, TV, surround sound, air conditioning, bathroom ... It’s just the way the business has grown here in the north country and all over the world,” said Mr. Wratten. “Now it’s a home on wheels.”
It’s not just about camping anymore. An interesting shift in the travel-trailer or fifth-wheel industry is the desire for people to live a mobile and/or minimalist lifestyle. They’re retiring on the road or working on the road while moving from place to place in their travel home.
“I think this is why we’ve really seen an increase in size and addition of the comforts of home,” said the business owner. “We have full-time RVers.”
Whether customers come to buy or rent a travel trailer, purchase supplies or receive service, Mr. Wratten stated customers are their friends, and that makes a difference.
“We don’t have the inventory like some other businesses. We are family oriented. We are friendly and that’s helped us a lot over the past 60 years,” he said. “We have generations of families as customers and we just love that.”
While the sales and service have kept the business going, Mr. Wratten stated his favorite part of the job is “meeting the people.”