I'm sitting here now in my hotel room, gazing at all the bags that litter the floor, thinking not only about the treasures that they hold, but also about how much fun I've had. Groom Expo doesn't disappoint, and this year was certainly no exception!
Tosha and I waited outside the trade show doors until Frankie let us in one minute early - thanks Frankie! :)
I picked up some last minute goodies, including moisture magnets, backup ear buds, flea spray, and some of Espree's Plum Perfect for my coat, hehe! At their booth, I saw Judge Joey walking by. Hoping I could set up something with him this afternoon, I asked him what he was doing. Turns out he too is involved with SuperZoo and was on his way out of town! I have a feeling that we'll be able to sit down and talk someday, but now he's really got some work out out for him - my portfolio is only going to get bigger from here! ;D
Somehow I managed to snag a front-row seat for the first class, Poodle to Portie. Michell Evans showed us all kinds of tricks to take an elegant little body and make it look blocky and powerful. Now if only I can find a Poodle to try this out on!
Sunday's luncheon was full of giggles. Mr. B hosted once again, this time bringing a green screen and several TVs with him. Volunteers put on green capes and their heads were projected onto a body of a professional dancer, all complete with animated backgrounds and music ranging from guilty-pleasure country tunes (Sparkly Barkleigh did Achy Breaky Heart with the hotel staff!) to Sir Mix-a-Lot! I was hoping there would be a bigger screen so I could get some pictures, but it provided a good laugh nonetheless. There's a certain element missing from the luncheons now that Judy Bremer Taxman is retired, but Mr. B definitely keeps the spirit alive!
While thoroughly enjoying a pecan-encrusted chicken with peach sauce (I'm starting to drool just thinking about it!), I spoke with columnist Kathy Hosler. She will be featuring several of our comments about the Expo in next month's Groomer to Groomer; look for my name when you open up that magazine!
A new friend was sitting at my table as well. We shared a table at the Cocker class on Friday night, and she said that she was inspired to come for the whole show next year, just by talking to me! I can't help but feel honored that I've helped someone to improve her confidence. It's one of the best feelings in the world! Speaking of helping others, I think I sent about five people to Gilly's booth; just like me at Intergroom, everyone has to have those awesome shear bracelets! Hope he has some cool new stuff for me in April! ;)
Off to the next class! I heard that Daryl Conner's 101 Practical Grooming Tips was a good one to take. All of the reviews were spot-on: the seminar itself moved at an aggressive pace, and although many of the tips were common sense, there were plenty of gems hidden in there. I've got some new techniques--including the "Vulcan death grip" and twisting drop ears to achieve an even scissor finish--to put into practice right away!
The Kenchii booth held a very special raffle today. Several months ago, Lisa's daughter was killed in a car accident, and the other family's medical expenses have been going through the roof. The Leady family decided to raise as much money for them as possible, and so Kenchii held a special drawing for a wine basket and two special brushes, each framed and containing colored dog hair - one from Lori Craig and one from Dawn Omboy. Guess who won Dawn's brush!
I'm glad to have something that needs to hang on my wall, but also very honored to help out Lisa's cause. She is one of the biggest sweethearts I know, and I'd always be ready to help her out however I could. Lisa, we love you! Don't start crying! ;)
I wanted to get Dawn to sign it, but she won the wine basket; we speculated that she ran off to her room to have a little private party, hehe! I'm coming for you with that awesome brush at Intergroom, Dawn!
The last class of the day - and the Expo - was already upon us. Tosha met up with me at Nancy Ward's class on being your own boss. Plenty of good business tips were shared, which is what I'll be needing someday. I can't say that I'm the most business savvy person out there, and since becoming that was one of the tips, this was perhaps the most useful seminar - the best for last!
Tosha is driving home as I continue to type. After saying our goodbyes, I felt a familiar lump in my throat: it was officially over. Through hell and high-water--literally--groomers from every corner of the country came to celebrate the profession, and were now heading back. Booths were being broken down, extra merchandise packed away, and Groom Expo 2011 is now nothing more than another blissful memory. Although I might sound like a broken record when I say this, there is so much truth behind these words: I am blessed to be in an industry where everyone can come together and have the time of our lives with people we've never met. One weekend makes all the difference in the world, and there's a new invigorated flame lit inside our hearts. Where else but Hershey can one get a feeling exactly like this one? I can only hope that other groomers share in the magic I feel, combined with the hope that the next year will be even better.
The end of Groom Expo is bittersweet. Although a great event has come to a close, it only means that I get to be reunited with Xavier tomorrow and take new knowledge (and toys!) home to the shop. A bright new year is just starting to poke over the horizon, and with the experiences I've shared here, I say, "Bring it on, baby!"
See y'all next year!!