In 1973, 55-year-old James Dobson constructed a little building on McAllister drive in East Saint John.
“Unbeknownst to him, he was incubating businesses out of it,” says his son, Derek Dobson. “There was an insurance company he had partnered with and they started out of that building, a small trucking company also started out of this building.”
One day, a man named Malcolm Barrett, who worked at a company called Wholesale Distribution in Woodstock, pulled into the building’s lot with a bunch of trailers.
“He said, ‘You should be selling trailers here,’ ” says Derek. “Dad and a few of the other guys that were there said ‘yup, roll them off and put them right there in the corner.’”
That was the beginning of Leisure Time Sales, an RV and outdoor equipment company that’s celebrating 45 years in business this year. The company has moved around a few times since 1973, but today it’s headquartered in the Town of Quispamsis outside of Saint John.
Like Leisure Time, the RV business has come a long way in the past 45 years. Back in 1973, the industry was still quite young. Trailers were oversized, bulky, heavy and with interiors that would remind you of the sofa in your grandparents’ basement.
“We had orange and green interiors. We didn’t have the nice floral and pastel colours that we have today. But the consumer was the same. The consumer back then was looking to get out and enjoy nature, enjoy the outdoors, to have fun with their families, which is exactly what our consumer is looking for today,” says Derek, the store’s current owner.
“Back then we’d have mom and dads with three or four kids and they’d pack into a small 18 ft trailer or hardtop camper and hook it on and they would travel all around the Maritimes and down into the states.”