My daughter Karen and my granddaughter Blair at SuperZoo in Las Vegas
Trade shows have served a couple of primary purposes in the life of Dr. Becker's Bites: fun family time for the Beckers and good business time for Dr. BB's.
Family fun time for the Becker's (I have a good looking family!) :)
A couple of years
after John, Jim and I had started making Dr. Becker's Bites and selling them to
a few retailers in the Chicago area, someone suggested we would benefit by
attending Backers, a pet related trade show that was held annually in Chicago.
John and I did some research and decided it would be worth our time, effort and
money. That would have been around 2003. I deeply regret that I did
not journal in those early years of our business. However, I did find
some pictures that went back to those early years. This is going to be a
John, Blair (sitting on the floor) and Karen in 2003
We practiced setting
up our first booth in our garage, then packed our station wagon with a
table, two stools, two bookshelves and a couple of boxes of our only treat, Dr.
Becker's Beef Bites, then headed off to Chicago having no idea what a trade
show would be like. We were in for a HUGE surprise. This show was
enormous. Two full floors with thousands of vendors at the Convention
Center in Rosemont, Illinois.
John and me setting up our display in the garage
So feeling a tad out
of place, we set up our homemade booth not knowing what to expect. The
first day the show opened, we knew we belonged in the pet market. It was one excited new vendor after another. John
was a natural... he has an amazing deep "radio voice." He met
people easily and seemed to instinctively know what to say and how to say it...
a natural communicator and story teller. I was immensely nervous.
He said to me, "Mom, just tell our story." And that is what he has
been telling me ever since.
Our VERY FIRST trade show in Chicago
That first year showed
us that there were retailers and pet parents/owners who were thrilled to learn
that there was now a single ingredient, human grade, pure meat treat
available... the first of its kind in the US. Then as we walked around the show
a little, we were surprised to learn that we were the ONLY species appropriate
treat there! Sitting at the booth, we spent most of our time educating store
owners about what "species appropriate" even meant. Crazy... but
My daughter Ann (next to me) joined us a few years later
My daughter, the vet,
reminded me why she asked for this treat in the first place... that for her it
was a necessity. She needed a treat that met her high standards and
couldn't find one, so she asked me to make one for her. And as it turned
out, we were the only treat of its kind at the show! That was 20 years
ago... how time flies.
My husband Jim sitting in yet another creative display from John
We were fast
learners: signs, banners, shelves and the beginning of more treats.
John is creative and artistic and each year he designed a different
"look" for our small 10 x 10' booth.
... and another display with new signs and banners
About 10 years later,
we decided to pack up and drive to another trade show in Las Vegas - SuperZoo.
We thought Backers was big... but SuperZoo blew our minds. And yet I
remember our small booth being one of only a few species appropriate treats at
the show. After Blair (my granddaughter) joined our family business, she
and John decided to load up and head to Florida for the Global Pet Expo...
which was even larger then SuperZoo.
This is about a tenth of the total size for Global Pet Expo in Florida
These trade shows
became an annual "homecoming" event, with our longtime customers
stopping by to say hello and share their stories with us (and an excuse for
a family reunion, to be quite honest). We so look forward to seeing our
customers of the past 20 years at these venues, and hearing their stories about
how finicky pets go absolutely crazy for our treats.
This is our booth during a "slow time"
We have met some
amazing people along the way who continue to love hearing about our story and
why we do what we do. Our booth has been known to completely clog the aisles with customers, fans and friends (especially when Karen is in the
booth). It has also become a central meeting place for many retailers who
enjoy connecting with us and each other during these events.
So there you have
it. That's the story of Dr. Becker's Bites and trade shows. I look
forward to sharing more about our family in the months to come.