You’re making plans to head to next year’s Global or Superzoo. You know why you are going there, but you don’t have a list of exhibitors to visit and timetable set for them. If you are like myself, you planned on just going there without, well, without a plan (which is highly unrecommended and I regret it each time). When I attended the SuperZoo this year, I honestly never would have been prepared for a pet store convention being that big, It had 1189 booths! I think I now understand why they set chairs throughout the halls!

After I saw how large it actually was, I started thinking, ‘how exactly does someone get around this whole show, and come out with the best out of all the new products and ideas for the good of their store?’

 

 

That’s when I decided to get in contact with… a couple of our customers that have been to these to find out what they do for these conventions and to get some insights from them for how a pet store owner can be ready to dive into the pet store convention world!

 

First, we’re going to hear from our customer Bethany Vernom Stockman, co-owner of Laconia Pet Center in New Hampshire.

She’s been in the pet industry for her entire life, being past down the reins of the business at a slow pace from her parents until she and her brother (Brett) fully took over in the year of 2006. She’s been to upwards of 10 different trade shows with the Backer show in Atlantic City, NJ being her very first about 20 years ago.

Now that we know some about her, let’s move unto the questions!

 

-What effect did attending the pet shows have on you and your store?

 

Bethany: “Well, it gives you the opportunity to see what’s up and coming in the industry, see some new products that you may not ordinarily see because distributors haven’t picked it up yet.

It also gives you a good opportunity to talk to those manufacturers and, a lot of times you actually get to talk to someone who created the product which is kind of cool.

You get to get on the ground floor so to speak, talking to people, asking why they created a product, why they believe in their product and that can mean a whole lot when you’re looking for something to add to your store… you can actually talk to the person that created it”

 

 

-What advice would you give others for getting the most out of the experience?

 

Bethany: “I would say have a game plan on why your there. Are you there to look at new products, are you looking to expand a particular area in your store [or], are you just looking to network. So have a game plan then you can better tackle the showroom floor. Shows are very intimidating when you first get there and honestly even after you’ve been there for a while, because it’s just so, so, so big and there’s so much area to cover so, you definitely have to have a game plan.”

 

 

Next, we decided to get in contact with Patrick McGinnis, owner of Pets Plus in Parrish, FL.

He’s owned his pet store since 2006 so, he’s been in the business for 12 years now. He has attended over 10 of the major trade shows, and Patrick said in the interview: ‘Probably 40 or 50 of the smaller ones’.

 

 

-What effect did attending the pet shows have on you and your store?

 

“It helped me in a lot of ways, the most obvious one would be that it gives you the ability to network with other retailers, get insights into things that may be working in other peoples stores, things to stay away from [and] those would be the obvious ones. The other things I like to do that has been very good for me is it enables me to network with some more companies at a national level, maybe you know, corporate folks that I don’t get a chance to see on a regular basis, get an idea of maybe the direction they’re company’s going. There’s a lot of change in the industry right now so, being able to stay current with the trend trying to get overall vibes of what the manufacturers and distributors are thinking, trying to stay ahead of the changes to stay competitive so, I like to use it strongly as a networking opportunity. Then, of course, there are various other things involved in choosing staff to bring along. Sometimes because Global is so close we’ll bring our manager as well and they’ll focus more on looking at products and maybe other things, while I’m looking at either networking with executives on a regional or national level, maybe ironing out some barriers that need addressing and maybe I’m old fashioned, I like to do things face to face so, I use it as an opportunity to have those conversations.”

 

-What advice would you give others for getting the most out of the experience?

 

Patrick: “Have a plan, try to have a realistic plan. If it’s a larger show you know, try not to get it all in because it’s probably not going to happen. Quality over quantity. Be focused and reflect each day, reflect after the day is over, make sure you take good notes, after four days of being at a major trade show you won’t remember the first [day] one, it will feel like a year ago. So, come up with a plan, be focused, try not to take in too much because quality over quantity and, reflect afterward.”

 

So, basically in summarization, have a game plan set beforehand, at the end of each day review it to get the most out of it after the convention is over, and “Quality over quantity”, don’t rush your way around to hit the most booths, you want to talk to a lot of people, yes, but you want to have quality information to bring to the table at the end of the day.

 

Special shout out to Bethany and Patrick for being such kind and loyal customers and for taking these interviews!

 

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