Credit: Union Recorder
Editor’s Note: This is the fourth and final entry in our series spotlighting the four finalists for the Milledgeville-Baldwin County 2018 Small Business of the Year Award. The winner will be announced at the annual Chamber gala Saturday evening.
For almost five years now Scenic Mountain RV Park and Campground has been under the ownership of Butch Shaffer.
And for two years in a row, the 72-space park has been selected as a finalist for the Milledgeville-Baldwin Chamber of Commerce’s Small Business of the Year Award.
Scenic Mountain boasts tons of amenities for both its short- and long-term guests. There’s a pool to help kids and adults escape the Georgia heat, fire pits to keep them warm when it’s cold, and full hook-ups (water, electric, and sewage) that help make RVs and campers feel like home.
Alicia Dallago, marketing manager for Scenic Mountain, was asked by the owner, Shaffer, to come onto the staff about four years ago. She is originally from Argentina but lived in Pittsburgh, Pa. for 40 years where she and Shaffer met. Dallago’s accent is very different from the Southern twang commonly heard around Milledgeville, and she admitted to being a little nervous about going into business in an unfamiliar area.
“‘Wow!’ That’s my reaction,” Dallago said when asked how it feels to be chosen as a finalist for the second time. “It’s really a very, very nice feeling. Being a foreigner that talks funny and that came from the north to a small town, I had my doubts how I was going to be received, and oh my gosh was I wrong. I feel like I’m at home because well, I am home. Being nominated for the second time is just great.”
When Shaffer took over Scenic Mountain a little more than four years ago the park was in rough shape, as described by Dallago. Money was poured in to make the park less of a stopover and more of a destination.
“When we bought the park it was the kind of RV park where people would come for one night, leave early in the morning, and not think twice about staying longer,” Dallago said. “Now they come for one night and end up staying a week. They come back and bring their friends, too. They spend $40 a night here, but they also buy groceries, gas or diesel fuel, and they go to restaurants. It helps the economy of Milledgeville.”
One would think that the summer would be the busiest time of year for a campground. Kids are out of school, so it’s easier for families’ schedules to come together and allow for some time to get away. But the marketing manager said that Scenic Mountain is always busy with both short- and long-term guests coming to enjoy time out of their homes and away from their busy day-to-day lives. The local campground has also served as a sanctuary for those escaping the effects of hurricanes and tropical storms that land on the Georgia coast. Dallago said they have put evacuees anywhere that water and electrical hook-ups could be found. In the same vein, Scenic Mountain is in the process of creating a storm shelter for its guests for when hazardous weather makes its way through the area.
The park often receives compliments on its friendly staff, cleanliness, and spacious sites, according to Dallago, all of which are a point of pride for the local small business. The campground staff also seeks to get to know those making the park their temporary homes with potluck dinners and ice cream socials that take place on some of the bigger holidays throughout the year.
“A lot of times RV park owners just check people in and don’t interact with their guests,” Dallago said. “Well, we really interact with our guests. Butch and I, a lot of times, drive around in our golf cart to say hello to everybody.”
Scenic Mountain strives to do business the old-fashioned way. Many RV parks and campgrounds accept reservations online, but Scenic Mountain chooses not to for a couple of reasons. Dallago and Shaffer like doing things with a more personal touch, but also because guests who planned on staying only one day often decide they aren’t quite ready to leave making it impossible to give someone who might reserve a particular space online that spot. Many would deem that as a good problem to have.
Scenic Mountain RV Park and Campground is located at 2686 Irwinton Road and can be reached by phone at 478-454-1013.