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Why Trade Shows Are Important to Groomers

As featured in the Groomer's Choice VIG Magazine: Vol 1, Ed 2, Summer 2023 

Competitions, education, networking and shopping – just a few, and in my opinion, very important reasons to attend grooming trade shows. 

Trade shows are hosted throughout the year all throughout the country. While some of the newer trade shows may be a little small, others like Groom Expo in Hershey, Pennsylvania, are absolutely huge. Going to one or several can definitely make a difference in your life and in your grooming. 

Sophie_Rebehn_1First, let’s talk about competing. Whether you have the desire to compete or not, it is always a good idea to stop and watch the competitions. Focusing on techniques and styles from the top competitors can be a great learning tool. Everyone in that ring is bringing their “A” game, so this might inspire you to try a different style or find a way to make a cleaner groom.

If you do want to compete, it’s the best learning opportunity in my humble opinion! Once the competition is over, you can ask for critiques from your judge and from your fellow groomers. 

After your competition, I think it is always a good idea to take a picture of your finished groom. You can use this to study your trim and compare it to future grooms to see your progress. Even if you’re not competing, take as many photos as possible and use those trims to help your day-to-day grooms. 

The competition ring isn’t the only place to learn. Each trade show is jam packed with tons of educational classes on a variety of different topics that can help elevate your grooming. From learning about shears to managing a business, even if you think you know all there is, it never hurts to get a refresh! 

Classes can be a lot to take in, but they are definitely worth it. New techniques, equipment and tools come out every year due to new information as the industry changes. It’s a great way to stay on top of it all and know all the hot trends! 

Sophie_Rebehn_3In addition to classes, lots of trade show booths also offer demos and mini educational seminars. With booths far and wide, it may be easy to wander, but you can definitely find top industry leaders putting on small lectures or demos. While they’re grooming, you can watch and take notes on their techniques and how they position themselves. Being up close and personal really allows you to see how they make a certain trim come together. They are also a great resource and will answer some questions you might have on trims. 

Not only are there top industry groomers, but there are lots of vendors willing to teach you about their products. The people who are working behind these booths are VERY knowledgeable, and they are more than happy to answer any questions you might have. You can learn a lot about how different products work and how to properly use them. 

If taking classes isn’t your jam, you can spend your time networking instead – creating connections with fellow groomers and making new friends in the process. This is a big part of going to trade shows, and some of these connections can be very beneficial for opening a new door. Networking could be a new connection with someone you admire, an opportunity for business or finding someone who becomes your bestie for the restie! (I mean, you’re surrounded by lots of people who have a similar passion as you do!) 

It can also be a great time to meet people that you look up to, take pictures with everyone or just have a fun weekend! If you go to a lot of shows, you will most likely run into these same passionate people who you can create invaluable friendships with. 

Last, but not least, the shopping is all weekend long! You could literally shop till you drop and drown in all the new products and tools you’ve collected. Plus, a lot of venders offer discounts and samples over the weekend. And who doesn’t love saving some money and getting new things to try out? 

What I like about shopping at trade shows is that you get to hold the product in your hands and get a feel for how they work before purchasing! Shears are a great example of this. We all know how difficult it is to commit to buying new shears because you don’t know how they will feel or how they will cut. Well, at shows you can hold them, see how they perform and compare them to different shears you had your eye on. There are also fun and exciting things beyond new tools and equipment… like, ACCESSORIES! Cute bows and neck accessories? Yes, please! 

These weekends can be great for stocking up on all of your favorites, and you will probably find more than what you were looking for! It can be super easy to get overwhelmed and just buy, buy, buy. It is best to come up with a budget for necessary items as well as fun. This way you won’t feel buyer’s remorse or be broke come Monday. 

There are so many more reasons to go to a trade show, but for me, competitions, education, networking and shopping are the most important. Trade shows provide opportunities for us groomers to expand our skill range, add new techniques, refresh ourselves on the basics we may have forgotten, learn new things and overall have fun. 

All in all, it’s a fun experience, and you should definitely try to make it to at least one trade show if possible. If we are at the same show, please come say “Hi!”

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