Campfires have long been a source of light and warmth, conduits of conversation and inspiration. At Pet Connections, we bring these centuries-old discussions to the Show Floor, where the focus will be on topics that matter to Independent Pet Retailers.  In addition, speakers from the main educational program will attend Campfire sessions to answer questions, autograph books, and engage in a 1-1 dialogue with attendees.  These interactive sessions run for 20 minutes giving you the opportunity to listen in and contribute to the topics that interest you.

Additional Campfires to be announced soon

Here is a preview of some of our 2019 sessions!


How Independents Win with Differentiation and Speed to Market

How Independents Win with Differentiation and Speed to Market

Chris Avery, CEO,

This campfire focuses on tactics some of the best Independents across the US are using to thrive.  Discover how and why you should quickly test new products without over investing in inventory?  Understand what are ways to present merchandise that looks and feels ‘exclusive’ to your store/channel?  Learn how to find the right brands succeeding in brick and mortar, not online?  Determine what services should be added to be unique…and which should you avoid? 

Public Relations in the Pet Industry: What you Need to Know 
Dana Humphrey, Whitegate PR 

In this campfire session you will learn some easy and cost effective tips on doing your own PR. Get advice on the ins and outs of writing a press release and learn who to send it to... and who not to send it to!  Understand what to include and how to make your events more newsworthy in order to generate the most news media coverage.  Also, get the insider scoop on a few free locations where you can post your press release to benefit your search-ability online. 

Which Social Media Channel Is Best For My Business?
Jane Harrell, President of 'cause Digital Marketing and co-Owner of

Did you know that one social channel far exceeds any other for generating online sales, while another is THE ONE clients use to make sure a business is legitimate? Whether you’ve flocked to Facebook, are seeking instant gratification on Insta or losing it on LinkedIn, each social media platform is good at different things. And if you’re pouring time and money into one that won’t help your goals… it’s a waste. This campfire explores a proven system and helps you find out in 20 minutes or less which social media channel you should focus on to meet your specific pet business needs, NOW.

Pricing for Profit: Increase Your Sales Without Spending Any Money

Candace D’Agnolo, Pet Boss Nation

Focus a lot of time and energy getting new customers into your store? Tired of spending money on marketing and not seeing results at your cash register? What if there was a way to increase your sales, improve your margins and it doesn’t relate to marketing or buying at a discount? Well it’s possible! In this session, learn the best kept secret in retail… the psychology of pricing. Walk away with a clear plan on how to make more money in your shop immediately.

2019 Trends: Making the Most of your Marketing
Matt Aldrich, Founder, Pet Engine Marketing

Join us to gain a handful of trends to notice as a marketer, as a pet store owner, and as a retailer. You'll leave with ideas on how to combine all three to become a store that takes advantage of what's happening in these industries right now.

Forming A Relationship with Dog Trainers

Fernando Camacho, Trainer, FernDog

A partnership between a pet retailer and a dog trainer is a logical win-win. Learn how to find the right dog trainer, how you can collaborate with them and services you can offer to engage more with your customers. 

Advice from the Pet Influencer Perspective: Learn How to Work Strategically with Influencers to Grow Your Brand & Customer Base

N.G. Gordon, Dear Mishu's Dad

Influencer Marketing is hot and retailers want to know how to make it work for their businesses. However, all we hear is advice from agencies, B2B brands and analysts. This is great, but without understanding the Influencer perspective, it's impossible to understand how to attain brand awareness, consideration, and sales from influencer marketing. In this campfire, N.G. Gordon will answer why influence marketing can help drive business and how to find and work with influencers.


  • Identify which Influencers will bring best return for your brand (hint: it has nothing to do with 'being authentic') 

  • Define priorities and how to protect your brand when working with influencer marketing (hint: you need to think outside the box)

  • Prepare your brand for this new kind of campaign (hint: it’s easy, but does take some thought)


Finding & Keeping the Unicorn Employee

Candace D’Agnolo, Pet Boss Nation

Unicorns…they are magical (…and very trendy right now!) One of the definitions for a unicorn is something that is highly desirable but difficult to find or obtain. Some would even say they don’t exist. This unicorn trend has now found its place in the business world. With the lowest unemployment rate in eighteen years, many of us are having a real battle with finding and hiring employees. In this campfire session, learn the process to interview, hire and build your fairytale career path with a Unicorn. It’s worth learning about the process, because unicorns are reliable, respectful, hard-working and willing to wear many hats. Let’s go find them!


Grow Your Business with Photography
Mindy Dutka, Chief Storyteller, dogs I meet

Content is king has never been more true than in this age of social media and eye catching photo content is more important than ever. Quality photos can make your website infinitely more engaging. Striking photos can build your brand on social media. Beautiful photos enable you to show your clients and customers what you have to offer rather than tell them.

Learn some tips on how to take better pet photos, discuss why professional photography is a worthwhile investment and discover a well-kept secret of where you can purchase affordable stock pet photos.

Understand how Pet Businesses Can Utilize LinkedIn Video to Build Influence
Nancy E Hassel, Founder, American Pet Professionals


In this campfire session we will discuss the rise of video on LinkedIn and how it can build your business and brand's influence in the pet industry.  LinkedIn is putting a lot of energy into video for their users, and it can be a great way to be seen in a business setting vs. other social media platforms.  We will discuss some ways you can and should use video on LinkedIn, apps that are simple and easy to use to produce video and simple tips to help you get over the fear factor of video. 


Engaging Your Customer from the Beginning by Offering Puppy Classes 

Fernando Camacho, Trainer, FernDog

Puppy classes are an easy thing to add into your business because they don’t require a lot of space (like obedience classes) and you’ll likely be getting a customer for the life of the dog. Learn how to get started and run them at your store. 

The Shocking, Low-Tech Secret to Generating Maximum Customers in Minimum Time
Jim Ackerman, President, Ascend Marketing 

You can use this marketing “secret weapon” with any medium to make sure you maximize response, sales and profits. This profit-proven principle utilized by smart direct response marketers all over the world and in virtually every industry is the single biggest determiner of whether your marketing efforts will be a success or a failure. Miss this campfire session at your own risk. Tens of thousands of dollars may be at stake.

  • Gain a new perspective on how to make compelling offers that sell, and why you should do so

  • Recognize alternatives to standard discounts in crafting creative offers your customers will respond to

The Bottom Line: Online Metrics to Track for your Pet Store
Matt Aldrich, Founder, Pet Engine Marketing

In this campfire we'll take a brief, deep dive into the world of Google Analytics and website metrics. We'll look at real-life data of current pet store clients and use that to come up with actionable tweaks and changes to improve the impact of your pet store's website and marketing strategy.

Facebook Ads 201: How Do I Make the Most Out Of My Spend?
Jane Harrell, President of 'cause Digital Marketing and co-Owner of

Learn exclusive pet-business tips for making the most out of your Facebook advertising. Whether you’re using the best imagery for a pet business, or the most cost-effective objective, little tweaks make a big difference in getting the biggest bang for your buck with Facebook Ads. Learn which ones we see work best specifically for pet-related businesses, and how you can make small changes for big impact in your ad campaigns.

How Stores can form a Win-Win Relationship with Professional Pet Sitters and Dog Walkers

Beth Stultz-Hairston, VP, Marketing & Operations, Pet Sitters International

As a pet retailer, your customers often look to you as a resource for more than just pet products or pet food—and will trust your recommendation on pet-care providers, including pet sitters and dog walkers. Don’t risk your professional reputation by suggesting a subpar pet sitter. This campfire will explain how to network with local professional pet sitters, what qualifications you should look for before recommending a pet sitter to your customers and how collaborating with local professional pet sitters can benefit your business.



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