May 22, 2013

The annual fall trade show hosted by H.H. Backer Associates at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center, in Chicago has gotten a makeover, including a new name.

“Our goal is to help attendees get a jump on the competition for 2014 and finalize their holiday season buying for the year, which will be easier now that we have September dates,” Colette Fairchild, the show’s director, said. “We will feature a great variety of new exhibitors and products and offer a new twist on the educational portion of the show. We want buyers to leave Backer’s Total Pet Expo with the education and motivation they need to be successful.”

The show’s new website, www.totalpetexpo.com, helps buyers find vendors, products and services they want to see quickly and easily and also makes the registration process faster.

Some new features include:

Pet Store on the Floor

A new 3,500 sq. ft. retail store serves as a resource center on store layout, merchandising, staff training and POS options.  A special area within the store focuses on how to implement a successful staff training program, Pet Store Pro. In addition, H.H. Backer will give away two iPads each day.

The Idea Wall

A 30’ long wall, located near the Pet Store on the Floor, provides a forum for sharing and reading retail tips.  Prizes are awarded for the best ideas.

Backer Buyer Rewards

Qualified attendees are rewarded for placing orders at the show. Attendees receive a $75 Visa gift card for every $3,500 spent at the show (up to three cards per firm).

“The Smart Zone”

New education stations offer a more comfortable, conference-style setting right on the show floor and will include tracks on technology, finance, marketing/merchandising, aquatics and animal health/wellness.

Industry experts offer free advice for small groups of attendees on everything from the latest social media marketing strategies to the hottest merchandising trends.  A full schedule will be available online beginning June 15.

Full Day Pre-Show Seminar on Retail Sales and Marketing

Retail expert Bob Negen of WhizBang! Training presents, “Explode Your Sales: Marketing Ideas So Effective They Will Blow Your Mind” on Thurs., Sept. 19 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Negen reviews tools, tactics and techniques to help turbo-charge retail profits. This seminar shows attendees how to quickly implement five ways to immediately build an average sale, turn first-time shoppers into long-term customers and train a great team of retail superstars.

Registration information will be available beginning June 15. The fee is $99.

Product Innovations Area

Sponsored by Pet Age magazine, this newly designed area, formerly known as the Product Showcase, will feature the industry’s best products.  Awards for the top three products will be presented on the last day of the show.

Free Downtown Chicago Shuttles

Shuttles leave from the main entrance of the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center after the show closes on Friday evening, Sept. 20, and will be available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Improved Networking Opportunities

A special reception for members and guests of the newly formed Women in the Pet Industry Network gives both attendees and exhibitors a chance to get together in a relaxed atmosphere on Sat., Sept. 21 from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. in Backer’s Club Platinum Lounge. For additional information, e-mail [email protected] or visit booth 408 at the show.

Backer will also host its all-industry party on Sat., Sept. 21 from 9 p.m. to midnight at the Hyatt Regency O’Hare. Attendees receive two complimentary drink tickets during the first hour. Costume contest prizes are $500 for 1st place, $250 for 2nd place and $100 for 3rd place.

5K Fun Run/Walk for Pets.

This event, sponsored by GoToRovers.com, is open to teams of competitors in addition to individuals.  The run starts at 7:30 a.m. on Sat., Sept. 21 and benefits The Animal Care League of Oak Park, Ill.  Visit GoToRovers.com/funrun.php for details and registration information.

The show will also offer specialty areas, including expanded All-Natural and New Exhibitor areas and the “Celebration of Style” Grooming Competition, featuring more than $20,000 in cash and prizes.

Backer’s spring trade, April 9-11, 2014, in Atlantic City, N.J., will also assume the Total Pet Expo (Spring) name.

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