We never like to see an RV manufacturer announce their closure. Especially a boutique manufacturer. And even one with an annoyingly cute name like Lil Snoozy.
But Lil Snoozy didn’t announce anything. It was there one day and gone the next. At some point earlier this year, someone unplugged the phone lines, soaped the windows, killed the lights and let themselves out for the last time. There was no announcement or press release. No “Farewell, All!” Facebook posting. If a person disappeared as suddenly and mysteriously as Lil Snoozy did, there would now be lines of federal marshals being dragged by baying bloodhounds through the marshlands of South Carolina.
Unfortunately, Lil Snoozy isn’t the only thing missing in this case. There is also –surprise, surprise- quite a bit of money unaccounted for. More specifically, down payment money –because it appears that Lil Snoozy was still accepting sizable down payment checks from customers right up to the end.
As we noted above, we’ve always been fans of boutique manufacturers. The owners are accessible and passionate and they take genuine pride in their finished product. They aren’t beholden to shareholders or cut corners if the accountants want a higher return per unit. We liked Lil Snoozy for their honest approach and had some good conversations with the founders/owners over the years. But then a few months ago we started getting odd e-mails from readers. No one was answering the phone at Lil Snoozy! Did we know what was going on? Lil Snoozy’s website was gone. Could we advise what had happened? Unfortunately, we responded initially that things were probably fine. With only a handful of employees (5 at last count), answering the phone was often a challenge for Lil Snoozy, especially when they were busy –and our last conversation with the company had implied that they were very busy indeed. And the website was probably just undergoing scheduled maintenance or an update. Everyone just relax, we advised, things are going to be fine.
Well, we were wrong. Really wrong. Within days the phone went from unanswered to disconnected and the website didn’t return with a spiffy new design. In fact, it didn’t return at all. Things went from bad to worse when we starting hearing that more than a few people (45 at last count) had placed significant down payments ($10,000 on average) right before Lil Snoozy went dark. We started to get a sinking feeling.
One enterprising soul contacted the company’s nearest neighbor and asked him to describe what he was seeing over at the usually very busy Lil Snoozy manufacturing facility. Everything was dark, the neighbor responded, and there was a padlock on the door. Uh oh.
It now appears that Lil Snoozy is gone for good. We’ve heard from a reliable source that the owners have recently filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection, and this implies that no one will be getting their money back. One issue with boutique builders that we haven’t emphasized enough is that their continued solvency is often entirely dependent on a single owner or two. If the owner falls ill, falls down the stairs, or does a crummy job managing the books, the company can find itself in real trouble very quickly. With no corporate parentage –with deep pockets- they are extremely vulnerable to market downturns and rising costs from suppliers –both of which have created headwinds for all RV manufacturers in the last year.
This is an unfortunate reality and it does happen. The issue we have with Lil Snoozy is their continued acceptance of down payments from customers right up until the end. 45 down payments X $10,000 = almost half a million dollars. Considering Lil Snoozy’s payroll had to be pretty modest with only 5 employees, and the fact that they didn’t incur the expense of supplying a travel trailer in return for the money received, it appears that someoneabsconded with a significant amount of cash right before the phone line got pulled from the wall.
Some of you may be finding similarities to the bizarre events that felled RoadTrek earlier this year (which we also covered in another article), but in that instance the culprits were caught red handed and, while still unsavory, the trail of events was at least made available to the public. With Lil Snoozy, it was business as normal and then Poof! Today, months after the Poof!, there is still little in the way of explanation aside from the recent Chapter 7 bankruptcy paperwork filed very quietly by a law firm.
With all of this said, we’d like to see the owners of Lil Snoozy publish a statement of some sort. With their website gone, they obviously can’t say anything there, but presumably they could re-activate their Facebook page long enough to issue a brief explanation and an apology. The apology may not be accepted by all, but it would at least provide some closure for those dozens of customers who lost their down payment. Maybe our accusations are out of line. Maybe Lil Snoozy was burning through cash faster than it was bringing it in. Maybe the owners genuinely held out hope that they could keep the whole thing afloat right until the end. If that’s the case, why not come out and say it? In exchange for $10,000, it’s the least an owner can do.
For those considering a used Lil Snoozy, we still recommend them. (Keep in mind, buying a used Lil Snoozy won’t benefit the company or the owners in any way, so no worries there.) They built a good small trailer and their fiberglass molded exterior made for an extremely durable, low maintenance and weather resistant shell. Painstakingly hand made, withan aerodynamic shape, the trailers were built on a galvanized steel frame and insulated with foam layered between the fiberglass layers. All of these materials are highly resistant to rust, rot, or decay.
Though the Lil Snoozy had just one base floor plan, it was capable of housing two, three or four people, was easy to tow -even for first time trailer owners. The company offered a cargo style camper without furnishings for those looking for more of a toy hauler. We would avoid these on the used market. Even at a wholesale price they aren’t worth the expense. Escape, Scamp, and Casita were Lil Snoozy’s main competitors and all three are still available today if the idea of a Lil Snoozy is suddenly a bit unpalatable.