I spent the weekend in Hershey, PA at the amazing Groom Expo show. The lights, the glitz the excitement and laughter (and all that CHOCOLATE!) that are the hallmarks of this show still glow in my memory.
I well remember as a brand new groomer in the mid 1980's reading the Groomer to Groomer magazine that would arrive free in the mail. It was so exciting to me to have some contact with other groomers, and Sally Liddick and Gwen Shelley who put the (then much simpler) magazine together were my heroes. When I would read in issues about Groom Expo,(the show these women put together each year) I used to fantasize that I might someday get to go to a show where groomers rubbed elbows for an entire weekend, looked at the latest and greatest tools in the industry, and attended educational seminars.
Fast forward 26 years and I was there. The show is now familiar to me, and not only do I get to attend but I work in a booth showing off one of the latest and greatest tools and I get to GIVE one of those educational seminars. It is more than a dream come true, because I would never have been so audacious to dream something this amazing. But I digress....
One of the unique and marvelous things about Groom Expo is that Sally Liddick and Gwen Shelley host a Gospel breakfast each year on Sunday morning. It is always a treat to attend, with beautiful music and inspirational talks. This year Sally Liddick made an announcement, she is retiring. Although her spirit is as feisty as ever, she is experiencing some health problems that have forced her to turn the helm of Barkleigh over to the capable hands of a younger crew. It will take a CREW to replace her work, and those of us in the industry who admire what she has done for groomers everywhere know that she can never be "replaced."
At the breakfast, Sally gifted each attendee with her new book, Taking A Different Path. On the long, (LONG!) ride home last night I read the first half of the book aloud to my husband as he drove. We were both fascinated. I think this book is a must read for groomers everywhere. Not only does it capture much of the history of our industry, it is an inspirational guide to entrepreneurs. Sally created an amazing business in a time when women were not welcomed to do such things, and she did it in an industry that was fragmented and lacking guidance. She truly changed the lives of thousands of groomers for the better with the educational opportunities she put together for stylists across the country.
Sally may be retiring from grooming, but I suspect she will still have a hand in all things Barkleigh, and I also think she and her lifetime friend Gwen still have some wonderful adventures before them. I wish for her good health and much joy as embraces retirement. And I am forever grateful for the opportunities she has given to groomers everywhere.