WalMart campground?

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trazoe

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We have never stayed in a Walmart parking lot, rest area or truck stop.  We've always dropped the 20 or so bucks per night on a campground, even if it is just passing through.  Truck stops are always so noisy and rest areas scare me after dark.  Plus, I have noticed that a lot of them do not allow camping or parking for over 8 hours.  Not to say that doesn't mean you couldn't 'park' there lot enough to catch a night's sleep, we just don't do it.  There's something about a Walmart parking lot that scares me too.  I'd do it in a pinch, over a rest area or truck stop, but not unless I had no choice.  I've seen plenty of folks do it, just not for me.  Take note though, there are some Walmarts that do NOT allow overnight camping and you will find signs stating so on their lightposts.

And excellent point about rolling out the awning and the chairs and unhooking the tow vehicle.  It should be a stopover, not a campout.
 

Ron

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I am not aware of any Wal-Mart that will not allow overnight stays unless local ordinances, usually prompted by the local campgrounds through their association and affinity group, forbid it.  I strongly support boycotting campgrounds in any area that have such ordinances.
 

Tom

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Ron said:
I strongly support boycotting campgrounds in any area that have such ordinances.

I guess I don't share that view Ron. Like WalMart or any other business, campgrounds need to make money to survive. Boycotting CGs in an area that has such an ordinance merely helps to drive CGs out of business and that can only hurt RVers. Why strongly support anything that can hurt RVers?

Personally, I don't stay overnight at a WalMart and just have to shake my head when I see RVers staking out their spots in a WM parking lot in the middle of the day and they're still there the middle of the following day.
 

Ron

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We don't normally overnight at Wal-Marts or such but there have been a few  occassions that there was a choice of driving on when we were tired of park somewhere and no campground was available.  Less than 4or 5 occassions since 1998.

However I strongly oppose any business that pushes to have ordinances passed that would force me to their place of business.  I not only support boycotting I have been known to contact them and let them know my position.  I don't really believe a good campground is going to be hurt in by a few RVers overnighting someplace other than their campground.  There are some campgrounds that are so poor boondocking somewhere is a plus in comparison.

As for those that spent more than one night in a parking lot or set up their Awnings etc I do not approve of that either.
 

Tom

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Ron said:
However I strongly oppose any business that pushes to have ordinances passed that would force me to their place of business.

If a city or town has an odinance banning overnight in parking lots, how would you know it was the result of a campground pushing to have the ordinance passed? I know of a number of places with such ordinances and there are no CGs in the same city.
 

trazoe

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I agree, how would you know that the campground had anything to do with getting the ordinance passed?  It could very well have been in place before the campground was even in existence.

One place I do believe seeing no camping signs was the Walmart in Ludington, Michigan.  It has been a while, but I am pretty sure it was one of the places.  It is pretty touristy, and the parks fill up quick, so I think the probably had to do it our their lot would be full!
 

Ron

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First of all I may not even be aware such an ordinance exists since we don't normally even attempt to park overnight in a Wal-Mart.? However, like Billings, MT I found out because the subject came up while talking to a local.? A call to city hall confirmed the ordinance exists and was prompted by a campground owners association.? I know Cheyenne's ordinance was also prompted by by the campgrounds owners Association because we have several Friends there.? When I become aware of such campground actions then they are on my boycott list.?
Some times participation can be confirmed with a simple call to the campground.
 

John From Detroit

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One thing you need to do when boycotting a campground is LET THEM KNOW WHY.. I do this with some stores espically at Christmas time... I have two stores where I make a point of not shopping during the "Bell Ringing" season (Salvation Army bell ringers) and I make sure I let the store know why (They won't let the bell ringers on property... I have a Christmas story, it involves a bell ringer, best Christmas I'd have in many, many, years)


Wal-Mart has a web site that lets you know if you can park there (or someone does) overnight, and you can, and should (As has been previously noted in this thread) check with the store manager before overnighting.  If there is an ordance odds are the manager can tell you why he refused, the ordiance will be "Dated" if you go look it up and it may be possible to get minutes of the city council or whatever it's called meeting and see who spoke for and against.

That's if you wish to go that far
 

Tom

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I prefer to have the option of a campground in a location than have the CG shut down because of some organized boycott against them in favor of parking at Wal*Mart. Not being able to stay at either one doesn't do me much good if I need a place to stay for the night  ;D
 

Smoky

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I am an inveterate (sp?) Wal-Mart parker and not the least ashamed to say it.  Pulling into a campground when on a long haul is just too much trouble.  I am not going to use a campground unless I can stay there for two or more days, preferably three.  I would not boycott a campground but I am very put off by the ones who do not understand the usefulness of long haul parking at Wal-Mart.  When I pull into a Wal-Mart I am dead tired and on the move.  Don't want to fool with hookups or tricky maneuvers.  Just want to run into WM, replenish my supplies, sometimes walk to a nearby restaurant, and then hit the hay for an early start next morning.

As always I obey public parking etiquette, not wanting to ruin this necessary and beneficial privilege given to us by the WM company.

Long live WM!

BTW, you will generally meet a great class of folks on a WM parking lot.  Most of them are long haulers with interesting tales of far off places.
 

Wendy

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Mike and I often stop overnight at Wal-Marts. We never stay more than one night and we stop there because we don't need hookups, we can't see paying $25 or more just to park, and often we're just plain tired and need a place to sleep. Not everyone can afford $25+ per night for a campground, not everyone needs hookups, not everyone wants to be in a campground just to sleep. And we've always felt safe in the WM lots as opposed to some truck stops and rest stops which were noisy and unsafe.

Cortez happens to be one of the places where you cannot stop for the night in the local Wal-Mart parking lot. The campground owners pushed through a city ordinance forbidding overnight parking at Wal-Mart because, they claim, there's a health hazard (?????). My belief is that this has hurt the city because the people who would stop in the Wal-Mart (and coincidentally shop there and pay city sales tax) will not stop here if they can't park in the WM lot. They will NOT stay in the local $25+ campgrounds. They'll continue on to the next town that DOES allow parking in the WM lot. So the campgrounds don't get the customers they think they'll get and the city loses out on some sales tax revenue.

Wendy
p.s. If you're ever passing through Cortez, please don't bypass us. The manager of the local Wal-Mart doesn't care if you park in his parking lot and the police don't enforce the ordinance because they say it's private property and they won't remove anyone unless the store manager asks them to. You'll get a nice night's sleep in a wonderful small town. And you can call us for a free Ranger-led tour of Mesa Verde, Hovenweep, and the San Juans.


 

Tom

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If I can't afford a night in a campground I'll sell the coach rather than hop from WM to WM pretending to be a shopper. It's just not my style of camping. Besides, how much stuff could I buy at different WM stores on consecutive days?

There are plenty of legitimate CGs that are reasonably/lower priced, some even free, and are far nicer places to stay at.
 

John From Detroit

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Tom said:
If I can't afford a night in a campground I'll sell the coach rather than hop from WM to WM pretending to be a shopper. It's just not my style of camping. Besides, how much stuff could I buy at different WM stores on consecutive days?

There are plenty of legitimate CGs that are reasonably/lower priced, some even free, and are far nicer places to stay at.

The problem Tom, is sometimes you are just stopping for the night (or day) cause you are too tired to go on and the wal-mart is right there

The one time I stopped in a wal-mart lot (only for a few minutes) trust me, the stop had to be done and NOW (Like I said, just a few minutes, not even worth shutting the engine off for.. but when you gotta stop, you gotta stop)

I do agree, if I'm going to stop, use the shower, (Facility shower, not rig's) plug in, hook up and all that.. A campground

But if it's just cause I'm starting to think I should take a few hours off the road and go horozintal,  Well, any parking lot capable of holding the MH without damage is a good place.
 

Tom

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John In Detroit said:
The problem Tom, is sometimes you are just stopping for the night (or day) cause you are too tired to go on and the wal-mart is right there

Understood John and I have no issue with folks doing that. It's just not for me. Yesterday we were on a long run and felt we were too tired to safely go on, so we stopped at a campground that was closer than the nearest WalMart.

The one time I stopped in a wal-mart lot (only for a few minutes)

I've done that myself John and not just at WalMart. I made several "gotta go now" stops at rest areas just yesterday. But I wouldn't stay overnight at any of them.

Well, any parking lot capable of holding the MH without damage is a good place.

Each to his own John. Although some folks think I have something against WalMart, my real concern is safety. If I'm passing through a strange town, I really have no idea if the WalMart I see is in a safe place or not. A few times my other half has said "let's just pull over into that WalMart for the night" and I've said "no, we'll find a CG".
 

Ron

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I am pretty sure that Judy Barns has no first hand  knowledge of such infractions.  Should I ever see an RVer comminting the infractions she mentioned I would be the first to report them, aaa maybe the second if you beat me to it.  Judy Barns has basically accused you me and any other Escapee of committing these infractions.  I point out accused but no proof. As for us even though she has accused us we know we haven't committed such acts.
 

Tom

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Smoky said:
In all my travels I have ignored ordinance postings at WM.

You are a braver man than I Smoky. We once overnighted near a marina where I was "working" an event when our boat club brought 80 boats into the marina for the weekend (all paid their dues of course). At 2.00am I awoke to a loud rapping on the door of the coach and a bright light shining through the blinds. I knew this had to be the local police and decided to lay there quietly, pretending nobody was home. Right then Chris awoke yelling "someone's at the door".

Standing there half awake in my PJs, I tried explaining to the officer "we're with those boats over there", but he just said "move on, we don't allow RV camping here". At 2.30am we took a room in the Marriott at the marina and put the coach in their parking lot, with permission of course. This episode probably contributes to my reluctance to stay at places like WM.

...ask permission from the manager. It has ALWAYS been granted, though they advise me of the ordinance and give me helpful suggestions to deal with it.

I'm curious, what kind of advice do they give you Smoky?
 

Smoky

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Tom:

I should have been more clear, sorry.  It is only the ordinances at WM I ignore.  Though I always check with the store manager first.

As for advice, it has been varied, but always emphasizes that WM themselves are opposed to such ordinances and the rest usually has to do with the specifics of the local situation.

Last time this happened we were in on this trip in eastern Wyoming (or was it western SD, not sure) and there was a posting on some of the light poles. 

Upon visiting the store manager, he explained that this was brought about by the local Yogi Bear campground over staunch opposition of WM.  He said that the police seldom enforced it and usually only when an RV was there longer than 24 hours.  He also said we should insist we were very tired, if they knocked, and even hint at engine troubles.  But he said it was VERY unlikely anyone would  bother us.  His only request was that we park at the rear of the lot, which we already had.

He added the owner of the campground would occasionally drive by and make a list of those RVs parked there.  This is similar to the kinds of comments and advice I have received from other WM store managers.  All of them had a smile on their face, almost like it is some sort of game with nutty campground owners.  I realize I am only getting one side of the story, but it does not appear that the ordinance signs are much more than a scare tactic.  At least on WM grounds.

I would likely have ignored his advice about fibbing, and simply moved on had the police chose to enforce it and knocked on my door.  I am  always VERY compliant when police are involved.  If the police think it is a serious matter, then I will be polite and take it seriously and move on. 

My main point in this thread is that the whole thing is pretty much overblown, and unless people are uncomfortable, they should do what they feel they need or want to do as long as they follow etiquette.

In three years of WMing on long haul legs I have never had a problem.  I don?t worry about it.
 

Tom

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Thanks for that explanation Smoky. Interesting that WM would actively encourage ignoring a local ordinance.
 

John From Detroit

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I can't speak for every state as truly I don't know... But Michigan I do know.

The parking lot of a Wal-Mart is PRIVATE PROPERTY, now, police can enter private property w/o permission of the owner or his authorized agent (in this case the store manager) for a number of reasons.

1: If they are shopping wal-mart
2: If they are in "hot pursuit" of someone who runs across said property
3: If they observe a Felony in progress
4: If they observe a fire on the property
5: Only as far as is required to request permission
7: To perform a property inspection for ordance compliance (This however affects the property owner, not you the parker)
8: In some cases handicapped parking rules are well written and allow the officer to ticket on private property
9: With a warrant

Oh yes, there are other reasons not listed here, but basically not one of them apply to a parking violation

So, the only way, here in Michigan, they could ticket you at 3am on a Sunday would be to get a judge out of bed to sign a warrant.  For a parking ticket, likely about $100... Trust me.. They are not going to do that... (If they tried it might well be 3am NEXT Sunday monring, long after you have moved on, that they get back to that parking lot)


They can not enforce parking regulations on private property WITHOUT THE Store Manager Requesting they do so.

They also can not enforce stop signs and other traffic regulations on private property without the manager's request

The greatest danger would be some jerk parks a big SUV right in front of the store's front doors, and the manager calls to get him ticketed or towed... And the officer takes the invite to include your rig... In my years of working in retail,  I have observed many such jerks parked right in front of the store, in the very clearly marked fire lane... NOT ONE TIME did the manager call.  In my years (25) as a police dispatcher, We only got calls if the car was there for many hours (Like 2 or 3 days) or if the owner of the car was someone the store owner wished to run off (this happened fairly often)  In my 3 years as a tow truck dispatcher the illegal parker has to be very bold in order to get towed.

And finally... if your rig is properly parked, and you don't drop the jacks or put out the awning or lawn chairs... How is the officer to know you are not just shopping... I mean.. If I was overnighting at a Wal-Mart I would put out one slide (the bed) but If I was buying Toilet Paper I'd put that slide out as well cause the main bathroom is on the far side of the bed and it's either put out the slide or climb over

(NOTE: in all cases another employee can step in for the manger,,, However with wall mart the employees serve at the pleasure of the next person up the corporate ladder, the top rung at the store is the on-duty manager and any employee who called the cops on you (other than he) would be in a world of unplesentness when the manager found out)

Now... A passing campground manager can write down your license plate... but only the store manager can request enforcement

Of course the city can fine Wal-Mart for allowing ... but how many ordiances are written to allow that? (Likely zero)

Let me see if I can get lucky with Detroit (Alas, I'm on the cell connection at this time and it's not fast enough to load the Municiple Codes.. Will have to grab them when I'm on DSL)  Of course there are ano wall Marts in Detroit at this time

I know Detroit has an ordance against a campsight within 10 feet of the curb (or some other arburtary distance) as I recall reading it on a trip to find out just what ordance they claimed I had violated once (Turns out I was not in violation)
 

Smoky

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Tom:

I think Detroit John may be on to the reason.?

My take is that WM wants very much to be RV friendly, and sees the campground owners that get ordinances passed as being somewhat paranoid and getting their nose into WM's business.? There is certainly no love lost between WM managers and campground owners who fuss with the WM parking lot.? I have a LOT of admiration and loyalty to WM, so I think their efforts do indeed pay off for their business in terms of repeat RV business..

Heck, if I were a CG owner, I would go make friends with the local WM managers and ask permission to post flyers advertising my CG on the RV windows.? It would be a friendly message welcoming them to the area, and suggesting if they plan {edit} to stay for awhile, that we have great hookups and amenities and to drop on by for a look-see.? I would add a comment that if they were just passing through, that maybe the next time they might want to stay awhile and visit the local attractions, which I would list.? I think any RVer receiving a message like this would feel good about BOTH the CG and WM!? ?I would certainly remember that CG and make a note of them!

IMO, adversarial approaches seldom pay off.
 
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