I’m often a couch potato with a remote in my hand and I have three dogs. So this week I attended two tradeshows addressing my lifestyle. The first was the D2C (Direct to Consumer) show sponsored by the Electronic Retailing Association (ERA) at Paris Las Vegas. Two days later, I dropped in at SuperZoo 2009 produced by the World Wide Pet Industry Association, Inc. at Mandalay Bay’s Convention Center.
The ERA gathering was a hoot in that I saw several infomercial stars (there’s the lady that sells the Jack LaLanne Power Juicer!) and talked to inventors who were hoping to be taken under the wings of the many willing marketers, payment processors and warehouse folks who were exhibiting.
Ed Morris of Northern Response International, Ltd. noted that electronic retailing (“as seen on TV” or on your friendly website) has been growing at a tremendous pace, 25 to 30 percent a year. He admitted that at one time product sales on TV might have included a number of poorly-made items sold to a gullible public, “but no more; the products are great.” Northern Response markets “Huggable Hangers” on Canadian TV (sold in the US on HSN, the Home Shopping Network). “These are great hangers,“ Morris gushed. “I just got them myself, and I have twice the space I used to have in my closets.” (I agree; I have a house full of Huggable Hangers myself.)
One part of the convention floor was devoted to new products. Many were clever, but I wasn’t sure of long-term viability of others. One product was a bookmark with built-in lenses for the far-sighted. Another was a small cute stuffed animal for the car; the owner reaches into the animal’s “rear end” for a small bottle and tiny cloth to spritz and clean car windows. “No need for a bottle of Windex on the front seat!” the inventor declared. And finally, one can “personalize” a clock after taking a photograph with the arms of the clock being the arms of a person. Hmmm.
One new product looked good to me. It was a cleverly made bandana, a “Jazzy Cap” being demonstrated by its stunning inventor, Shern Bonner. The bandana would be good to cover up bad hair or simply to cover the head of women who may have lost their hair due to illness. A representative from QVC (my favorite home shopping network) had come by and made an appointment for the next day. Fingers were crossed.
Down the street, SuperZoo 2009 was basically an opportunity for some 3000-plus pet store owners to pick up products from 600 exhibitors for the coming holiday season and beyond. What fun!
Not only were plenty of cute dogs around for the grooming contests and fashion shows, but in an area dubbed “critter alley” a variety of other animals were on display: birds, tiny snakes, hamsters, gerbils, miniature rats and dwarf bunnies. Mark Cowan of Pet Store USA noted that rats are often better pets than hamsters, “gentler and less aggressive,” he said. Who knew?
Other products on hand? Both tradeshows had “pee and poop pens” for the indoor dog. Artificial grass covers a grate with a removable pan underneath. One even came with a miniature fire hydrant to put Fido in the right frame of mind.
Swarovski crystal dog leashes and fancy shoes for the dog with cold paws were also available, as were memorial soy candles with beautiful quotes with which to remember Fido. First-aid kits for pets (AKC approved) were also on sale. At booth 2754, visitors could win a $40,000 pet-store makeover. Missed a booth? Just check out the 95-page Daily Show Program packed with ads.
A big English Bulldog named “Betsy” strolled the aisles and attracted attention as did a number of poodles and small cute white furry dogs. No beagles, though – too common.
Both the Electronic Retailing and Superzoo folks were happy in terms of attendance. The Electronic Retailers had their largest attendance ever, 3000 plus attendees from 40 countries, and SuperZoo saw no decrease in their attendance from last year. Katie Casey of Formula PR, handling the SuperZoo Press Room, felt many people decided to attend SuperZoo 2009 because “of the wonderful prices now in Las Vegas”.
Las Vegas is lucky to be a convention city. Conventions and tradeshows can be fascinating, and at the two tradeshows l attended, I ran into a number of local residents who had jobs because of the business-to-business gatherings. Retirees George Ritsi and his wife, Dee, were part of the registration team at ERA D2C and Sara Bovi and Selena Moore are local models who, when I saw them at SuperZoo, were being paid to look pretty and distribute t-shirts.