PetLooks Offers Retailers Boutique Items at Local Trade Show
Attending trade shows and other events to find the newest, as well as unique, pet products is a must for retailers, but traveling all across the country can get super expensive very quickly.
It is a driving force behind the new event, PetLooks, a small trade show that hopes to move around the country putting manufacturers in the retailer’s backyard.
“This allows vendors and buyers to talk to everyone,” Shawn Parisi, director of sales at PoochieBells, said. “There is no rush.”
Parisi, who pitched the idea of having these more intimate shows to her friend David Fine, of Bark-n-Bag and Furry & Fabulous after hearing from retailers that it was getting too expensive to travel to shows where then when they get there vendors don’t have much time to spend with them, or they run out of time before seeing everything they wanted to check out.
“For vendors and buyers, after three days it’s hard to stay organized,” Parisi said. “Plus, with the economy the way it’s been for both sides, we wanted to work together to grow the industry.”
The pair targeted retailers within a two hour radius of Philadelphia, where the Tuesday show was being held, and plan to do the same for future shows, which they would like to hold in other parts of the country.
“It’s affordable for vendors and buyers,” Fine, who expected to see about 100 buyers come through the door, said. “No one is staying over, it’s economical and they get more personal one-on-one time. ”
Many of the products being showcased were moderately priced, yet upscale looking and featured both items for the pet and the pet owner. A perfect combination for husband and wife Kerry and Jean Ustaszewski, who along with their daughter, Hallie, run The Dog Stops Here, a seasonal kiosk at Berkshire Mall in Reading, Pa.
“[The big shows] are overwhleming,” Jean Ustaszewski, said. “Dog food, aquariums, we don’t need that. We need more boutique items. We have repeat customers that come in every year so we need to find different gift items. They say, ‘what can I get for Aunt Lucy? I got her this last year.’”
Their kiosk is open from late October until the end of December, lending themselves to a customer base who is looking for gifts for their own pet, gifts for other people’s pets and pet themed items for other people.
That’s where products like Sara England Designs was offering, come into play. They feature, among other things, breed-specific cheese boards, coasters, matted prints and more.
“We’ve done Backer, Global, SuperZoo, other pet expos for years, but we’ve scaled back,” Sara England said. “We like those shows, but in a tough economy that is a lot of financial commitment.”
Instead of shipping enough product to fill a 20-foot booth like she typically would, she picked a selection of her favorite designs and items, put them in her car and drive to Philadelphia from her home in Maryland.
“There is less of a commitment,” she said. “Plus, we are coming to them [the buyer]. They don’t have to travel.”
Less travel was something that attracted Christine Savage, the manager at Flying Fred’s in Maryland, to the event.
“It’s more cost effective,” Savage, who manages a shop of about three people, said. “If we go to the big shows, that takes a few days ans since we are a small store, that takes time away from us being there.”
Savage has attended large trade shows in the past, but wasn’t planing on doing so this year.
“Last summer wasn’t that great so we didn’t go to Global and we are not going to SuperZoo,” she said. “[But here], I still get to see new products and check out the quality of them, which is very important for a store like ours.”
PetLooks organizers plan to hold a similar event in the Boston area next, and would eventually like to see it expand to the Northwest.