It was Shawn's dream to own a campground and as a family they decided to jump right in. Until they started looking for an equine campground in 2010, they had not heard of many. The Martin's lived in New Hampshire and owned two horses of their own. When they found True West Campground, they were thrilled to say the least. They could combine their love of camping and horses and hopefully if all went well make a go of it as a business and a living.
Shawn and Donna bought True West in 2011, sold their home in NH, left their jobs and moved to Tennessee. Their daughter was going to college and temporarily dropped out to make the move with them. A new journey had just begun for the Martin family.
Struggles early on
There were many struggles in the beginning - the campground had a bad reputation and they didn't know it until after they bought it. There daughter stayed on and worked at the campground for part-time pay...when they could pay her. Donna had to get another full time job in order to support both the business and the family. Shawn's main focus was the campground along with their daughter brittany. There was a ton of work that needed to be done to get the campground in working order. It had been left in poor condition when the Martins bought it. It took three years to build up the business and now they have just finished their 6th season and have been very successful in growing the business. They were actually able to afford their first full-time employee last April (their daughter Brittany) and the business is finally supporting itself.
Donna still has a full-time job on top of running the campground and at times it can be quite stressful juggling both and deciding where the priorities need to be. They are a family owned and family run business that has come with a ton of sacrifice to get it up and going. They have learned that running an equine business goes well beyond the day-t0-day operations and getting your hands dirty. It took time but they learned and developed policies and precedures so that they are running the business efficiently and with consistency. Those two ideas alone have helped them become the premier campground in their area.
When I talked to Donna and she shared the struggles of running an equine business, she was very open with me and shared that at times it did cause some stress on their marriage. But at the end of the day, their marriage and family comes first and they are a true success story. The Martins have just celebrated their 30th wedding anniversary and when asked if they would do it again if givin the chance?...her answer was...yes they would in a heartbeat!!
Making their business stand out
There is a lot of competition in their area so in order to be successful they had to make their business stand out. They did this by becoming memebers of the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds and engaging in educational opportunities. This year they won the Small Park of the Year award (for campgrounds up to 150 sites) from the ARVC. Equine campgrounds are actually a new commodity and this campground caters to horses and their owners. Their campground has two barns and holds 67 horse stalls and they also have a mercantile store where you can purchase hay, bedding and any other horse related items you might need plus it comes fully stocked for the needs of the campers. The Martins like to say that their hospitality is top notch, but their HORSEpitality can't be beat!!
True West Campground, Stables and Mercantile
3341 Leatherwood Ford Road
Jamestown TN, 38556
They are also on Horse Trail Directory!
and you can find them on Facebook
Pro Barn Management is still looking for stories! We would love to share about your equine business!