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| Try to pre-arrange meetings with exhibitors who are of particular interest to you.
Next month’s Toy Fair in New York City will provide a unique opportunity for everyone from major toy manufacturers to small, one-product companies to meet first-hand with toy retailers. Numerous products will be accessible up close. But, as a retailer, how do you know you’ll find the best products for your store’s needs?
The following 10 useful tips can help you make the most of Toy Fair 2006:
1. Determine your concrete goals. Do you want to find five new distributors? Nine new collectible rubber duck designs? One new brand? Deciding this beforehand allows you to skim past manufacturers that aren’t right for you.
2. Review the exhibitor list on the Toy Industry Association’s American International 2006 Toy Fair Web site. This will help you to identify “must-visit” manufacturer booths that will help you to achieve your goals: www.toy-tia.org/AITF.
3. Bring useful maps. Be sure to review the show floor plan (available on the 2006 Toy Fair Web site) to familiarize yourself with where manufacturer booths will be. In addition, bring maps of New York City, noting where your hotel is in relation to the convention center, and determine the most efficient form of transportation to and from the show.
4. Research restaurants. While you may want to grab all of your meals at the show, a handy list of restaurants, cafes and late night snack shops will save you from tracking down food at the last minute.
5. Prepare in-depth questions for manufacturers after conducting research. Once you have determined which manufacturers you want to meet, review their Web sites to retrieve as much information as possible before confronting products and sales reps/owners firsthand.
6. Make Appointments. Try to pre-arrange meetings with exhibitors who are of particular interest to you. Contact prior to Toy Fair can warm up a meeting, and give you a better shot at undivided attention.
7. Don’t forget about the smaller guys. Knocking down research on the bigger players before you get to the show will free up time for you to investigate smaller, newer manufacturers with more innovative products. Scour the show floor row by row to find them all, and use TDmonthly's "View New Toys Before Toy Fair Hits" article to familiarize yourself with new products before you arrive in New York.
8. Be Selective. You won’t have time to take in every seminar that sounds interesting, so choose only those that will benefit your business. Don’t worry about appearing rude if you’re halfway through a presentation and realize it’s not to your benefit to stick it out. Take the printed materials and find something that better suits your needs.
9. Don’t be stingy with your business cards. These will keep you connected after the show, and provide you with a good first impression while there.
10. Remember to follow up. Making new contacts is the reason you went to Toy Fair. Keeping in touch with manufacturers will let them know you’re still interested and give you an edge over those who don’t bother.