Backer’s Total Pet Expo Fall Trade Show Attracts Thousands of Qualified Buyers


total pet expo 2014Chicago (October 1) — Thousands of qualified buyers attended Backer’s Total Pet Expo Fall Trade Show, held September 19-21, at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Chicago (Rosemont, Ill.). More than 5,600 registered buyers from 1,742 firms attended the three-day event, according to show organizers.

 A total of 288 companies—including 71 first-time exhibitors—occupied 468 booths on the floor, offering an interesting variety of products and services for buyers to discover.

“We continue to be pleased with the quality of buyers that Backer’s Total Pet Expo attracts,” said H.H. Backer Associates’ president, Patty Backer. “With such varied sectors as our New Exhibitor Area and All-Natural Area—along with features like the Smart Zone Education Stations and the Pet Store on the Floor—the show remains a vital part of the pet-industry calendar, both in terms of order-writing events and networking opportunities,” Backer said.

Debuting at the show was an app for mobile devices, designed for attendees to more easily navigate the show floor and find exhibitors and products of interest. Part of the app was a photo scavenger hunt game, in which attendees could take and submit photographs of various parts of the show. Judged by H.H. Backer Associates on the photographs’ creativity, the winner of the game was James Sparks of Park Pet Shop Inc. (Chicago), who won an iPad.

Returning to the show were the Smart Zone education stations, where retailers and distributors could get targeted advice from some of the best minds in the industry. The area featured more than 60 free sessions, with tracks including technology, marketing/merchandising, business management, animal health & wellness and aquatics.

Also returning to the show was the Pet Store on the Floor, a 3,500 square-foot retail “store” located on the trade show floor, serving as a resource center on store layout, merchandising, staff training and POS options.

Another show feature was the Idea Wall—a 30-foot long space that provided a forum for attendees to share and read retail tips. The submitter of the top idea (as determined by H.H. Backer Associates) won an iPad. The winner was Glee Thacker of Very Important Pets (Adamsville, Tenn.).

New to the show this year was the Pet Product Showdown, in which exhibitors had the opportunity to deliver two-minute pitches about their new products to a panel of pet industry judges. The winning company—Innovation Pet Inc. (Cedarpines, Calif.) for its Kitty Connection Cat Play System—will receive a prize package (valued at over $10,000) from the contest’s sponsors, including public relations services, a video commercial produced by ReelPaws, a full-page ad in Pet Age Magazine and exhibit space in Backer’s Total Pet Expo 2015 show.

The Product Innovations area gave retailers and distributors a glimpse of all that the trade show had to offer. The area was once again sponsored by Pet Age Magazine, which also provided a panel of experts to determine the winners of the Product Innovations awards. First place went to the Tick Releaser Spray & Mail-in Test Kit by Marshall Pet Products (Wolcott, N.Y.); second place went to the Clickit Utility Dog Harness by Sleepypod (Pasadena, Calif.); and third place went to the aPUMP Silent Air Pump by COLLAR (Wilmington, Del.).

Prior to the show, Backer conducted a Top Ten All-Natural Products contest via Facebook. The winning products (as voted on by the public through the contest website on Facebook) were displayed in a special section of the All-Natural Area, along with certificates for each of the winning companies. First place went to the BONEO Canine Maintenance Formula supplement by Bio-Rep Animal Health (Yorba Linda, Calif.). (For a complete list of winners, please e-mail

Backer sponsored a costume contest during its ‘80s-themed all-industry party on Saturday night. Julie Phillips of Vanity Fur (Shorewood, Wis.) won first place; Daniel Johnson of Freedom Dogs (Hollywood, Fla.) was second; and Don Haukom of The Bug Company (Ham Lake, Minn.) was third.

In conjunction with the show, sponsored its fifth annual 5K Fun Run/Walk on Saturday. The event raised $2,100 for Tails Humane Society of DeKalb, Ill.

The Celebration of Style Grooming Competition at Backer’s Total Pet Expo Fall Trade Show

More than $20,000 in cash, travel packages and trophies was awarded in the 14th annual, GroomTeam USA-sanctioned Celebration of Style grooming competition.

Heather Roozee of A Groomery (DeKalb, Ill.) was the big winner in Division A. She was named Best All-Around Groomer, receiving $2,000 and a trophy from Coastal Pet Products (Alliance, Ohio) as well as a three-night trip to San Francisco plus accommodations and $500 spending money from H.H. Backer Associates. Division A’s Best Groomed Dog went to Michelle Breen of Best in Show Grooming (Cincinnati, Ohio), winning her $2,000 and a trophy from Electric Cleaner Co. Inc. (Osseo, Wis.).

Kassandra Hafele of Best in Show Grooming (Cincinnati, Ohio) walked away with the title of Best All-Around Groomer in Division B, for which she received $1,000 and a trophy, plus two round-trip tickets to any destination in the continental United States from H.H. Backer Associates. Division B’s Best Groomed Dog went to Lara Latshaw of Gordon’s Grooming (Plymouth, Ind.), winning her $1,000 and a trophy, also courtesy of H.H. Backer Associates. 


Contact:               David Spoor-Harvey, Assistant Trade Show Manager

Phone:                 (312) 578-1818




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