Last week, I went to the IHA International Home and Housewares trade show in Chicago for the second time. It’s only open to buyers, writers for magazines and newspapers, and a few members of the “Internet Media”. Lisa Martin and I were honored to be invited back for a second year!
The Housewares Show is booth after booth after booth of everyone from major brands like KitchenAid and Hoover to inventors looking for buyers for their brilliant new product. I must have said “why didn’t I think of that?” about 50 times over the two days I was there. Last year, Lisa and I had to explain over and over again what product review bloggers did and why we were there. This year, almost everyone we talked to said “oh, bloggers! We love bloggers!”, and that’s a great thing to hear from people. I sort of felt like a rockstar everywhere I went, getting invited into the booths for private tours, shaking hands with company presidents, being one of the only people allowed to take pictures. It’s a hard couple of days, but it is so much fun!
Lisa and I started out in the “Wired and Well” Expo, which is for floor and carpet care, kitchen, household electronics, personal care, and purifiers and filters. We talked to Keurig and Bunn about coffee makers, Bissell, Eureka and Electrolux about vacuums and floor cleaners, Telebrands about the Ped Egg and a whole bunch of other really cool products, Babycakes about their cool Cake Pop and Mini Donut makers, Blueair about home air purifiers, Helen of Troy about what’s hot in hair styling, and SodaStream about making healthier soda at home. And at SodaStream we got to see Susan Sarandon talk about the importance of using recycled plastics. Oh, and I posed for a photo with the very tall John McLemore of Masterbuilt by perching on his knee, which was a first for me. In my defense, he’s Southern and charming and when he knelt down and patted his knee I just couldn’t refuse All of that was just on the FIRST day!
The second day we did “Dine and Design” and “Clean and Contain” which were in halls right across from each other. We had met the folks from Protect-A-Bed at the Media Reception the night before, so we had fun posing for photos with them wearing “bug hats”. We got a personal tour of the Space Bag booth, met the brother and sister behind “Two Lumps of Sugar” (they have the most beautiful, whimsical patterns on all kinds of great products!), watched a guy demonstrate how safe and natural BabyGanics all purpose cleaner is by DRINKING it, met the man whose company just bought out Slinky (and their factory is 90 minutes from my house right here in Michigan!), watched Australian chef Ross Patten demonstrate his ground-breaking Rice Cube, and ended the day by having the man who invented the Smart Cart take pity on our aching backs and shoulders (we were carrying backpacks stuffed full plus two full bags of samples and media kits EACH) by giving each of us a free Cart in exchange for agreeing to write product reviews.
Then we went to Olive Garden and drank strawberry daiquiris and ate spaghetti to celebrate the end of two very successful days representing product review bloggers at the Housewares Show! We talked about how we had a big responsibility at events like that, because the two of us, plus the bloggers that Hoover invited, were really representing ALL bloggers. If we had been rude, greedy, inconsiderate, that would have made all bloggers look bad. But what we did was spend two days walking miles of expo hall floors shaking hands, saying please and thank you, giving inventors our honest opinions of their products, explaining that we not only represented bloggers but also the Moms who would be buying their products, and leaving a good impression with the people we met. And having a whole lot of fun in the process!
I have to thank Lisa and her husband and kids for letting me stay with them for THREE nights, Hertz for renting me a brand new Mazda 3 to get there, Media Relations & Communications Manager Debbie Teschke for all of her hard work including organizing the Sunday evening Media Reception, Jay Kelly from the Media Relations team who sent out the invitation and tons of pre-show information to make my trip there easier, and to all the business owners and PR reps and inventors who never seemed to tired to explain one more time what their product was and why I should be interested in it. And of course, thank you to Chris for holding down the fort while I was gone and the kids for the big hugs when I got home. I already can’t wait for next year!