CHA was a great but tiring experience. So much to see in so little time! 4 days just wasn't long enough when I also had meetings back to back on two of those days. Of course, I was also on total visual overload with so much color, so many patterns, tons of collections and just plain creative energy everywhere. But it was wonderful seeing many familiar faces and re-establishing relationships after being stuck in a booth for so many years! I felt like I was truly being welcomed back into this industry that had always been my anchor.
The economy may be depressing, but spirits were definitley high at the show. Lots of order writing, lots of positive energy. I'm still following up 3+ weeks later and expect the entire process will take weeks.
The one surprise at the show was the announcement of venue change from its long-time place in Chicago to Orlando in 2009. Chicago in mid-July is hot and steamy enough, with the potential for violent thunderstorms, 90+ temps and humidity, but Orlando the end of July/beginning of August will certainly not be cooler! The buzz on the floor was the addition of a 2-day consumer show to be tacked on to the summer show. Details have not yet been worked out as to whether consumers will also be able to purchase new products at this show or if it will serve solely as an educational opportunity to enhance the retailers' ability to furnish their customers with the new products and techniques. The big questions are whether retailer buyers (and consumers) will want to travel to this new location to make it worthwhile for the exhibiting manufacturers...and if this later date could affect orders being shipped in time for 4rth quarter.
But that will all be played out over the next several months, with the winter CHA show still ahead in Anaheim the end of January.
Next on my show agenda will be the pet industry show (HH Backer Christmas Show) in October. At least there is still ONE show I can attend without having to travel! With Book Expo and now both the CHA summer show and Halloween/Costume/Party show having moved out of Chicago, I'm starting to feel abandoned here in the Midwest!
Of course, the Backer show will never be the same without Tyler (see photo). That dog stopped people in their tracks at the show for years. Yes, he was that gorgeous...and yes, he had that star appeal that made him the model he was...and the instinct to read people that made him a phenomenal Therapy dog, as well. There was a reason why he was brought to NY to be on the AKC judge's tape for Border Collies! He may not have been interested in sheep but boy could he work a crowd...especially at those trade shows! CEO's from large pet food & other companies in the industry (along with the buyers they were speaking with) would run out of their show booths as Tyler strutted past. And that went on in every single aisle. Tyler loved all the attention, all the gushing over how "pretty" he was and, of course, all those cookies!
Maybe one day I'll have a new puppy who will show that same instinctive pizzazz and light up the show again! And volunteering at the nearby therapeutic riding stable (http://www.equestrianconnection.org/) sure isn't the same without my little Therapy dog at my side. Uh oh...starting to get puppy fever....