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New Pet Expo Brings Retailers, Manufacturers Together

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The inaugural NYC Re-Tails & Sales Expo recently brought Northeast pet retailers together with national pet manufacturers—who only make their products in the USA—for a day of networking, introduction to new items and special sales.

The Made in America-themed event was the idea of Dana Humphrey, owner and founder of Whitegate PR, and Nancy Hassel, founder and president of Long Island Pet Professionals, with Pet Age and Made in USA Certified as sponsors.

Humphrey explained a local event like this helps both the local independent retailer and manufacturers, especially the smaller ones.

“I do a lot of events in the pet industry, and Nancy and I felt that there was something missing for New Yorkers to have an event where there could be buying going on,” Humphrey said. “There are all these fashion shows where the public is invited and no one is buying anything. So what do these small independent manufacturers do? Maybe they can’t afford to go to Global, maybe they can’t afford to go to SuperZoo, or maybe they don’t even know how to do that type of show. So we wanted to give them something local that they could drive to. There are so many boutiques in New York City, why not start here and get some orders going to kind of just get the buzz going and be able to have a sales environment. Then from there, we got the Made in the USA theme.”

While different pet companies came from around the nation to show off their long-standing products, others used the expo as a time to show off their new ones. Jane Bell, owner of pet portables, recently launched a miniature version of her larger first-aid kit.

“I came today because not only are all my products human grade but they are made in the USA,” Bell said. “It is also an opportunity I couldn’t pass up.”

Julie Reiser, co-founder and president of Made in USA Certified, said the pet sector is extremely important for them, because of the amount of consumers who are looking for made in the USA products.

“Consumers don’t really realize that the ‘Made in the USA’ claim, like putting a flag on there or saying it is made in the USA, is a very unregulated claim,” Reiser said. “While the Federal Trade Commission does oversee that claim, they’re not actively pursuing and going after those companies that use that claim that maybe should not be using it.”

Retailers from around the area came to the day-long event to  find products they may never have heard of otherwise.

“If we could meet one brand and get one connection that works, if we could find a treat we are not carrying or a supplement we don’t know about or a food topping and put it in our campaign [that] we do, it could be really great,” Vito Mileo, business relations manager of Pet Flow, said.

Hassel said that early on, and throughout the day, orders were being filled out and a lot of selling had happened. The venue was also smaller, allowing retailers to take their time with each individual manufacturer.

“We already have a waiting list of people who want to do this again,” Hassel said. “A couple of the vendors already told us today before we even started, ‘Put us on list.’ So yes, we will definitely do it again.”

Stephen Trachtenberg, owner of Chasing Our Tails, creates a 100 percent original all-natural dog and cat treat, and came to the event to gain more exposure for his product.

“We cover New England really well, which is where we live, and we cover west of the Mississippi well because we have been to SuperZoo a couple of times,” Trachtenberg said. “So it’s really hard to find that show and fill that gap; there are really not a lot of shows to fill this gap in this area [New York City]. We have done really, really well today, absolutely worth the drive today.”

CritterZone, an air purifier that doesn’t use filters or chemical sprays, originally started in Minnesota, then moved to Tennessee, then finally moved to China, but things are different now.

“About six months ago, we came to the realization that we need to support America,” Shar Weinrauch of CritterZone said. “We were waiting for all the goods to come across the sea, and it took forever and would cost us a lot of money transporting it by sea. So we said, ‘Why not just bring it back?’”

Since moving back, CritterZone has acquired some of their old employees, and in turn creating jobs for Americans.

After the event, Humphrey said they plan to put together another show like this.

“We had an amazing interest and there were a lot of people who couldn’t make it today,” Humphrey said. “We are definitely going to do another one, absolutely. It may not be ‘Made in the USA’ themed, it may be another theme, but we will absolutely do another, maybe even in the fall because of how much interest has been shown.”

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