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PodcastsPartering with Local Vendors to Enhance Guest Experience: A Conversation with Marcia Neese of RiverWalk RV Park in North Carolina

Partering with Local Vendors to Enhance Guest Experience: A Conversation with Marcia Neese of RiverWalk RV Park in North Carolina

April 22, 2024

On this episode of Campground Confidential, we talk with Marcia Neese, owner–along with her husband Jim– of RiverWalk RV Park in Jonesville, North Carolina. Marcia and Jim spent two years building their campground, and then opened RiverWalk RV Park in 2020…right in the middle of the pandemic. 

Even though the journey to opening the campground was not without its challenges, Marcia’s prior professional experience in sales and managing multi million dollar businesses has been worth its weight in gold. She also attributes success to their commitment to leading with their heart and always trusting their instincts to provide an amazing guest experience for all their visitors. 

Campground Details: RiverWalk RV Park


Nestled along the Yadkin River in Jonesville, North Carolina, RiverWalk RV park offers a unique blend of nature and community-focused amenities. With 51 meticulously planned sites, the campground caters exclusively to transient RV campers, providing a serene escape for families and outdoor enthusiasts who are typically just an hour's drive from home. This proximity allows for frequent visits and a steady clientele looking for a quick yet refreshing getaway. 

Although the RV park has been booked solid on weekends since opening for business, Marcia and Jim do not plan on expanding the campground footprint. They love the size of the current campground, and prefer to focus on enhancements for their current campers. 

Building RiverWalk RV Park

Marcia’s transition from a 30-year corporate career into campground ownership was driven by a desire for change and a new challenge as she and her husband both approached a new season in life. Jim Neese, a former professional athlete with a background in grading and construction, shared her desire for a change. 

The idea for a campground came after a frustrating experience trying to book an RV park spot, which sparked the idea that they could offer something better. They envisioned a place that fused their love for community with a welcoming, friendly camping experience.  So together, they embarked on creating a campground from the ground up.

Armed with determination, the couple started by transforming a piece of overgrown land. Jim personally graded the land, ensuring each site was perfectly level—a nod to his attention to detail and background in grading. The initial design was simple, sketched on a paper towel, and evolved as they built the campground. They focused on a guest-centric approach, shaping the park to offer the best possible experience from the perspective of campers rolling into their carefully crafted haven.

RiverWalk RV Park Partners with Local Vendors

From the beginning, Marcia aimed to weave the local community into the fabric of her campground. She started by introducing 'Sit Back and Relax Saturdays', a tradition that brings different local food trucks, dessert vendors, and a pop-up mobile bar to the campground every weekend. A local brewery helped set up an onsite bar, further anchoring the park within the local economy.

Marcia expanded the campground’s offerings by including diverse activities coordinated with local businesses: ax throwing sessions, live music events, and themed bingo nights named 'World Famous RiverWalk Bingo', where winners shout "I love RiverWalk!" to claim their prizes. These activities not only entertain guests but also support local artists and entrepreneurs, many of whom struggled during the disruption of Covid-19 shutdowns. Visit RiverWalk's Facebook page for a great look at how local vendor's are incorporated into the campground. 

Guest Insights at RiverWalk RV Park

Marcia's campground attracts mainly local campers—about 80 to 85% live within an hour's drive. This insight allowed her to tailor her marketing strategies effectively, utilizing data to focus efforts where they would have the most impact. Her campground has become a favored local spot for quick retreats, providing a beach-like experience with a man-made tranquil sandy beach that draws guests, especially during warmer months.


Lightning Round Highlights

During the lightning round, Marcia emphasized the importance of community and personal connection in her business philosophy. She shared that the initial plan to create a hands-off investment quickly gave way to a full-time passion, underscoring her commitment to ensuring every guest’s stay is memorable. Her advice to new campground owners is to dive in with passion and be prepared to work hard and adapt, reflecting her own experiences of building and nurturing a successful campground from scratch.

RiverWalk’s story exemplifies how a personal touch, combined with community integration, can transform a simple campground into a thriving local retreat. Marcia reminds us that thoughtful management, guest-centered operations, and local collaboration can lead to a successful campground where guests and local vendors alike find a ton of joy…and plenty of economic value.

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