By B.C. Henschen
The pipe and drape have been hung, the aisles have been covered with carpet, and all the booths are loaded and ready! Ladies and gentlemen, this is the moment you’ve been waiting for. Welcome to SuperZoo 2018!
If you have read my column in Pet Product News magazine for any length of
time, you know I am a huge SuperZoo fan. I hope someday I can be the grand
marshal and put on my top hat to guide the masses into the greatest show on
earth. I’m not alone; in 2017, the SuperZoo Post Show Attendee Survey asked
retailers the question, “If you could only attend one show, which show would it
be?” Sixty-six percent of those surveyed said SuperZoo.
My question is, are you ready for SuperZoo 2018? Sure you have your business
cards ready to hand out, but are you ready to sell yourself? Do you have your
“elevator speech” prepared? Now I know you’re probably asking yourself, “Why
in the world do I need an elevator speech? I’m here to hear sales pitches, not to
Micro independents need to constantly sell their store, not only to consumers
but to manufacturers and distributors as well. In the age of commissions, sales
goals and market share, manufacturers tend to focus on multistore conglomer-
ates. Why wouldn’t they? Those stores are moving more units and helping the
salesperson make their goals. The downside for manufacturers is that many mul-
tistore conglomerates are not very brand loyal. Their “favorite recommendation”
can change based on the current promotion or a deal they struck with a manu-
facturer. It’s also difficult for a manufacturer to really stand out in some of these
larger stores. Smart manufacturers know they need local experts to help build
a brand in a market. Micro independents tend to be those local experts who are
sought by consumers when they have questions that go unanswered at the larger
stores. Much like using celebrities and social media stars to influence an audience,
your store can carry the brand’s message authentically, which can be far more
important than reach alone.
Selling yourself and your store at SuperZoo not only lets the manufacturer
know you are an influencer, it also helps build relationships. You have invested
time and energy to attend this show, so take the time to ask in-depth questions
about products and business. Seek out the key people. Often, the founders or
presidents of companies are not sitting in the booth, but they are at the show. If
you have taken the time to sell yourself to the representatives in the booth, you
can probably get them to set up an appointment for you to meet the “people
behind the brand.”
When you get your meeting, make sure you listen to their values and ensure
they align with your own. Deals can be written at any time, while the opportuni-
ty to sit down and chat with key personnel of a manufacturer you’re interested
in does not come up every day. Don’t be afraid to walk away. I have personal-
ly fallen in love with a brand-new product, and then had an opportunity to sit
down with the founder of the company and realized his vision and mine were
With so many products on the market and so many different ways for consumers to buy them, we need products we know intimately and trust completely.
Use your social media and take pictures, create some posts, and let your customers know you are actively researching the products you sell and taking the time
to meet those who are important to the brand.
I hope to see you on the show floor, and have a great show! •
B.C. Henschen, a certified pet care technician and an accredited pet trainer, is a partner in
Platinum Paws, a full-service pet salon and premium pet food store in Carmel, Ind. His
knowledge of the pet food industry makes Platinum Paws the go-to store for pet owners
who want more for their pet than a bag off a shelf.
Speaker B.C. Henschen explains the not-so-obvious
reasons why independent pet specialty retailers need
to prep for their time on the show floor.
Are You Ready
for the Show?
Show Floor Talk
Thursday, June 28
11 a.m. - 11: 30 a.m.
If you are a micro independent pet retailer, you need to add
services. Pet services can certainly add more income to your
store, but, more important, services can keep customers
physically walking in your door. B.C. Henschen will talk about the
logistics of adding services to a store and the different services
available. Don’t worry if you don’t have a lot of space to spare—
many services can be offered in a small area of an aisle!
should take the time to
listen to a company’s
values and ensure they
align with your own, said
speaker B.C. Henschen.
“You have invested time and energy to
attend this show, so take the time to ask
in-depth questions about products and
business. Seek out the key people.”]