Our friend Becky McCray, small town and rural small business expert and regular SmallBusiness.com contributor, alerted us to a small town business opportunity we think is ready to import from the UK: “Champing.” It’s like camping, but in a church. Or, perhaps, like staying in a bed and really heavenly breakfast.
Your town probably has one: an empty church building. Or perhaps an underutilized one. I’ve seen several small town and rural churches converted into private homes, but I hadn’t seen one used as camping or lodging until this: champing, or camping in churches.
Quote from the website of the UK’s Churches Conservation Trust:
‘Champing’ is the ultimate ‘slow tourism’ escape, with England’s historic churches offering their own unique havens of tranquility, a peaceful night’s sleep interrupted only by the sounds of the natural world, and time to explore the beauty of the surrounding countryside at your own pace by day.
For some small churches strapped for revenue, champing has become a new revenue stream. For others, church buildings have been converted into various forms of lodging ranging from youth hostels to B-and-Bs.
This is a business idea that many small towns could pick up on. You could only have one church, or you could branch out into multiple small towns. You could market on your own, or you could use platforms like AirBNB or VRBO (Vacation Rentals By Owner).
Photos: Champing.co.uk, istock, SmallBusiness.com