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H.H. Backer Overhauls Fall, Spring Trade Shows

Posted: April 18, 2013, 7:25 p.m. EDT

Stung by falling attendance at its pet industry trade shows, H.H. Backer Associates today announced major changes, including new names and attractions.

The company’s signature Pet Industry Christmas Trade Show is now known as Backer’s Total Pet Expo. The event will take place Sept. 20 to 22 at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in suburban Chicago.

The Pet Industry Spring Trade Show, which was postponed this year, was rechristened Total Pet Expo (Spring). The next one is scheduled for April 9 to 11, 2014, in Atlantic City, N.J., and will be held every two years.

The September show was moved up this year by several weeks to better coincide with traditional buying patterns.

 Backer’s Total Pet Expo

Besides a new name, H.H. Backer’s fall trade show has a new logo.
"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,” said Colette Fairchild, the show’s director. "We will feature a greater 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,” she added.

Backer expects to have more than 500 exhibitors spread over two floors. 

A new website,, is designed to streamline show registration and the search for vendors, products and services.

Also planned for the fall show are:

• Pet Store on the Floor, a 3,500-square-foot prototype shop featuring layout, merchandising, staff training and point-of-sale options. An area within the store will focus on Pet Store Pro, a staff training program. SuperZoo, a competing show set for July in Las Vegas, is planning a similar concept store this year.

• The Idea Wall, a 30-foot-long wall that will serve as a forum for sharing and reading retail tips.

• Backer Buyer Rewards, in which qualified attendees will receive a $75 Visa gift card for every $3,500 spent at the show.

• Smart Zone education stations that will include tracks on technology, finance, marketing, merchandising, aquatics, and animal health and wellness.

• A full-day preshow seminar on retail sales and marketing.

• The Product Innovations Area, formerly known as the Product Showcase, featuring the industry’s best products. Awards for the top three products will be presented on the last day of the show.

• Free shuttles from the convention center in Rosemont, Ill., to downtown Chicago after the show closes Friday, Sept. 20.

• A reception for members and guests of the newly formed Women in the Pet Industry Network.

• 5K Fun Run/Walk for Pets, which is now open to both individuals and teams.

Specific changes to Total Pet Expo (Spring) are expected to be announced in early 2014.

The 2012 fall show brought together 7,456 registered buyers representing 2,040 firms. Some 501 companies occupied 857 booths.

Those numbers were down significantly from 2010, when 8,794 registered buyers represented 2,571 firms. A year before, in 2009, more than 8,800 registered buyers were in attendance.


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H.H. Backer Overhauls Fall, Spring Trade Shows

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Reader Comments
Have the show somewhere fun. New Orleans, Reno, Pheonix (not summer).
pat, Atlanta, GA
Posted: 5/14/2013 12:47:17 PM
Love the fact it is earlier in the year. Thank you for your progressive changes and the great email newsletters.
Amy Ammen
Amiable Dog Training
Amy Ammen, Honolulu, HI
Posted: 5/11/2013 3:43:30 PM
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