It’s clear that SuperZoo places an emphasis on grooming. One of the show’s six neighborhoods, “Groomer’s Court,” will be set aside for companies that specialize in grooming products, and the show will also host several grooming contests.
According to Judy Breton, the director of Grooming and Special Services for SuperZoo, the choice to do so many years ago was an obvious one: SuperZoo looks to celebrate all segments of the industry, and since grooming is an essential piece to not only the industry, but also to the well-being of pets, the board decided to focus on and support the grooming segment of the pet industry.
Decades later and the grooming section of the industry, as well as its representation at SuperZoo, remains strong.
According to Pet Age’s 2016-2017 Retailer Report, of the 38 percent of respondents who offer ancillary services in their store, 54 percent offer grooming. And it appears as though grooming services will continue to increase; last year’s report had self-service grooming in the eighth spot in the list of ancillary services retailers were planning to add. However, this year, self-grooming jumped to the first spot, with 25 percent of respondents citing self-service grooming as the service they are looking to add.
With retailers on the hunt for grooming products to stock in their store and for equipment to add to the grooming services they either already offer or are hoping to offer, one can expect Groomer’s Court to be especially busy at this year’s SuperZoo.
Grooming in Stores
Allen and Jennifer Larsen, co-owners of Firehouse Pet Shop in Wenatchee, Washington, are examples of two attendees who will be on the lookout for grooming products to add to the full-service grooming and self-wash spa their store offers. The store, which offers your basic pet supplies, is on the first floor while the grooming is in the basement.
When the couple first decided to open the store, not having a grooming service was not an option, according to Jennifer Larsen.
“It was always kind of part of our plan [to include grooming services],” Larsen said. “When we initially decided to open up a pet store, we wanted to be more of a destination, so we wanted to make it grooming, self-wash and boutique or basic pet supplies. We’ve been in a lot of stores that had one or the other but not a lot that had all of them, so we just kind of wanted to make it a go-to destination.”
When making the decision to include grooming services, the Larsens also took a look at what the competition offered.
The only other pet store in town did not have a self-wash station. Plus, it was almost impossible for pet owners to book a grooming appointment since all the local groomers were so busy, so the demand was there, as well.
John Edmondson, pet sales consultant for the pet dryer and accessory maker XPOWER Manufacture, Inc., says the partnership between grooming and retail, like the one Firehouse Pet Shop has, should be even more present in the pet industry than it already is.
“If you want more loyal customers, then you need to work on the service end of your business,” Edmondson said.
According to Larsen, Firehouse Pet Shop’s grooming services account for about a quarter of total sales, and she hopes this fourth trip to SuperZoo will help expand the entire Firehouse Pet Shop business, including its grooming services. One thing the couple will be zeroing in on when it comes to grooming at SuperZoo is smocks for their groomers.
Keeping it Professional
This attention to professionalism is a trend that the grooming industry has been seeing as of late, Breton said.
“I think the whole industry has expanded and has become more professional than it was years ago,” Breton said. “I think the new smocks and grooming attire have become more attractive. It’s not just boxy; now they have stuff that really accentuates the groomer and makes them look more professional, and I think that’s very important for the industry as a whole— that the pet shops are becoming more professional and the groomers and the equipment that we’re getting is always stepping up another notch.”
Edmondson says that through the full line of products it provides to groomers and retailers with grooming services, XPOWER hopes to help businesses keep up that level of professionalism. For example, its quiet machines ensure a more consumer-friendly area, its air scrubbers clean the grooming area’s air and the dehumidifiers speed up the drying process.
“We want to make the environment better for the public, the customer, the retailer and for the groomer. That’s what XPOWER is all about, that’s what we do,” Edmondson said. “…We’re not just drying, we’re making sure everybody is healthy and goes away with a good feeling.”
This high level of respect that groomers hold and show for their practice is one of the things that SuperZoo wants to highlight through
its grooming competitions.
“One of the things we want to do is show the expertise of the groomers and the profession and… the professionalism of the industry.
We want to make sure that the groomers can show off their work,” Breton said of the contests.
Shannon Moore, director of Grooming and Education for Espree, maker of natural and certified organic pet grooming products, is one of the judges for the Grooming Contest. She said she will be looking for “attention to detail and great profile.” She will also be on the lookout for crisp lines that are “as close to breed standard as possible.”
This care and attention to detail groomers show through their work is recognized by the customer, Breton said, and it is because of this that “the groomer is very respected by the customer.”
“The groomer’s really evaluating the whole dog because when they’re drying, they’re drying all the way to the skin; they can see if there’s any skin issues, they can see if anything’s going on and let the customer know to go to their vet or that somet
hing is happening to keep an eye on it,” Breton said. “When they do this, they want to teach the customer how to maintain the coat at home.”
And that’s where the opportunity for pet retailers—especially those who don’t offer grooming services but who would like to stock grooming products— comes in. As groomers teach customers how to keep up their pets’ grooming at home, owners will need to buy the products to do so. According to Breton, most groomers don’t carry products in their shop to sell. Instead, groomers will refer customers to a local pet store. So she suggests pet store owners
should introduce themselves to the local groomers and find out what products the groomers recommend to their customers for at-home grooming.
“The groomer is going to have 250-500 customers that they influence over the year, and that can really add to retail sales in a retail store by working with the groomer and making sure the products [a pet store is] carrying on the floor are the same ones that the groomers are using and recommending,” Breton said.
There will be every type of customer walking the trade show floor—groomers, retailers who offer grooming services, retailers looking to form a partnership with the local groomer—and the companies who will be at SuperZoo are eager to talk with them.
A Hands-On Experience
XPOWER will be at Booth 560, and attendees can stop by to see the company’s dryers and other products in action.
“You have to show the equipment,” Edmondson said. “You’ll never go to a show that we’re at that we don’t have these things plugged in, ready to show you because that’s the proof in the pudding, and that’s exactly what we do.”
XPOWER uses the three days of face-to-face communication SuperZoo provides to gauge what problems groomers are facing and what the company can do to help alleviate them.
“We understand that grooming is not an easy job. It is not. It is a hard, arduous job,” Edmondson said. “And we [get] a deeper communication with our customers [at SuperZoo] so we can provide better, groomer-friendly tools. The interplay we get at shows is very important.”
Andis Company is also offering attendees interactive product experiences at its booth, 471.
“The Andis booth will host a ‘show and tell’ for a hands-on introduction to several brand products,” Andis Vice President of Marketing Karen Formico said. “We’ll also have a few of our Andis educators onsite to host demos throughout the weekend. Our Education team and staff will be available for anyone with questions or those who might be interested in learning how to get the most out of their Andis products.”
Its popular Excel 5-Speed Detachable Blade Clipper, which is now available in the two new colors of fuchsia and burgundy, will be one of the products on hand. And as Formico points out, groomers are creative, and she thinks that the products Andis will have on display at this year’s show, such as the new Artistic Grooming Trimmer, plays to that.
The company is also sponsoring the Large Poodle Purebred Class within the Grooming Competition this year.
“We hope to continue positioning ourselves as a leader in grooming education and a trusted brand in the industry,” Formico said. “We’re invested in the grooming community and committed to our sponsorship of educational opportunities or competitions and further developing top-performing tools for professional groomers around the globe.”
Showcasing the Product
Animal care equipment manufacturer Shor-Line is another company that will be in attendance at this year’s SuperZoo and can be found at Booth 567. Its grooming products include tables, tubs and dryer cages.
“Shor-Line has been a long-standing exhibitor at SuperZoo,” Shor-Line Marketing and Innovation Manager Holly Gibson said in an email. “We love the energy of the show, especially the excitement of the grooming competition. It is a great opportunity to talk with groomers around the country—and the world—who use our products or want to become customers.”
She expects ergonomics to continue to be a key driver in grooming.
“Groomers are artists. One of the great things about SuperZoo is seeing the new trends in grooming artistry. Less talked about is the toll it takes on a groomer’s body,” Gibson said. “At Shor-Line, we have worked to make our equipment more flexible and able to take on some of the work. When you can choose multiple grooming heights and positions with the flick of a finger, the groomers can choose the best grooming positions for their body and the job at hand.”
Shor-Line also ensures that its products are comfortable for pets. Two years ago, the company introduced the Big Top Grooming table, which provides extra length as well as traction and stability to allow for larger breeds to feel more comfortable when being groomed, according to Gibson. But Gibson says the two biggest reasons customers choose Shor-Line is because of the tables’ and tubs’ “durability” and “sleek, modern look.”
“Our thick, stainless steel construction on places such as the grooming arm make all the difference in how long a product stands up to commercial grooming,” Gibson said. “We’ve added to our range of colors on the grooming tables to include Shor-Line blue. Th is keeps with the trend of deeper colors making their way into grooming salons.”
Gibson also thinks that “the revitalization of the economy has opened up new opportunities to groomers to expand both their offerings and their facilities.” Because of this, she says the grooming industry has seen more “spa-like” facilities that provide expanded pampering. And Gibson expects this increase in the amount of groomers who are buying higher-end products to help the company at this year’s SuperZoo.
Espree, which can be found at Booth 545, will be launching its Allergy Relief Avocado and Aloe Shampoo, according to Moore. The shampoo is loaded with avocado and organic aloe to provide temporary relief form chewing, scratching and itching while gently cleansing the skin and coat. It can be especially soothing for pets with seasonal and non-seasonal allergies.
“We’re looking forward to another successful SuperZoo. It’s always a fun show,” Moore said. “We want to keep up with the trends, we want to be groundbreaking with bringing new things to market and using that technology that we have to provide solutions.”
Gaining an Appreciation
Aside from forming relationships with the companies in attendance, Breton hopes attendees leave SuperZoo more knowledgeable about the grooming industry than when they entered the show. SuperZoo has more than two dozen grooming educational seminars planned, including over a dozen demos of different breeds and grooming styles.
Breton also says to be on the lookout for some of the latest grooming trends, including the color, stenciling and patterns they are doing on dogs of all types “to make them different and stand out and do something fun for the customer.”
There is also a new type of grooming, Asian fusion, which is gaining in popularity. According to Breton, Asian fusion produces more of a rounded cut around the face and mustache that resembles a teddy bear. The style “leaves more character to the face and you can make it more of a caricature instead of just a dog face,” Breton said.
Breton also wants people to realize the strong sense of community that those in the grooming profession share and hopes the groomers attending the show use it as a forum to connect with even more peers.
“I think groomers need to have friends all over the country and find out what’s going on and support their industry,” Breton said. “It’s an industry of everybody—it’s not just an industry of one person or one group, and I think it’s really important that the camaraderie and the networking continue once they leave the show.”