| “I don’t think they’re listening to what the buyers and vendors are saying.” — Lisa Visco, Learning Express
NEW YORK, March 8 – New York is out and Texas is in. After months of controversy, the Toy Industry Association announced after a meeting of its Executive Committee on Tuesday that this year’s Fall Toy Show will be in Dallas, October 8 to 11.
According to New York Toy Tenants Coordinator Steven Greenfield, “The move will prove to be divisive because a large number of companies (including majors and several TIA board-member companies) said they will not be in Dallas.”
Geospace International, for one, hasn’t yet decided whether to go or not, according to President Dennis Binkley.
“We’re in no hurry to be the first ones out there committing to this Dallas venue,” he told TDmonthly Magazine. “We meet with a lot of our key accounts one-on-one anyway, so it’s just a matter of whether or not this is the best venue for us to do it and whether it makes sense economically.”
But Toys “R” Us President Ron Boire is banking that Binkley is in the minority: “We’re certainly hoping for more vendor participation than at the show in New York.”
Also optimistic, TIA President Carter Keithley called the decision one that “will provide the most convenient and cost-effective way for major toy buyers and vendors to come together to do business efficiently."
Lisa Visco, vice president of merchandising for Learning Express, noted that last October’s vendor-dispersed show in New York City was “difficult to navigate” and lacked “the hustle and bustle that there used to be when it was in the toy building.”
Nevertheless, she questioned the TIA’s decision-making methods.
Two years ago, when TIA surveyed industry players about the location of the February Toy Fair, “it seemed like everyone wanted to move it [from New York],” Visco said. But the Fair stayed. “I don’t think they’re listening to what the buyers and vendors are saying.”
To read more about the controversy that had surrounded TIA’s decision, read our previous story on the subject, below.
TIA’s Fall Toy Show Sparks Controversy
By Julie L. Jones
| “[Manufacturers] are not comfortable signing leases if they’re not sure the TIA will continue to hold shows in New York.” — Steven Greenfield, New York Toy Tenants
The Toy Industry Association is once again focused on the question of where the 2007 American International Fall Toy Show will take place — New York, as currently scheduled, or elsewhere?
Groups representing toy manufacturers displaced from the International Toy Center and those who want New York showrooms have been searching for a replacement building — a process made difficult by the TIA’s failure to make a “definitive” statement on the show location, according to New York Toy Tenants Coordinator Steven Greenfield.
Manufacturers “are not comfortable signing leases if they’re not sure the TIA will continue to hold shows in New York,” he said, also voicing confusion about the association’s altered stance. “During the last two years that I was a board member [up until a year ago], we took two or three votes, and all of those votes overwhelmingly supported staying in New York.”
Despite those votes, negative feedback about multiple showroom locations during the 2006 fall show — in particular, reports from 20 buyers presented verbatim to the TIA Board of Directors — caused the 16-member board to reconsider, TIA President Carter Keithley told TDmonthly Magazine.
“We heard clearly from retailers that they want the event to be under one roof, and secondly, we heard from the vendors that it needs to be priced right,” he said. “We host the event for [the buyers’] benefit and we have to provide for them the most convenient, efficient and cost-effective show we can."
But, Greenfield said, last October’s show was “not that scattered.” More than 200 companies were in Javits, more than 20 were still in the Toy Center, and some of the 10 located elsewhere “weren’t directly relevant to buyers.”
“Why [the TIA] continue[s] to raise the issue is beyond me,” said Andrew Stern, former president of the now-obsolete 200 Fifth Avenue Tenants Association. “They appear to be really flawed in whom they’re talking to and how they’re presenting the data.”
“Their agenda,” he added, “appears to be to possibly move one of the shows out of New York to a venue that they can control and gain profits from.”
Keithley emphasized a different objective, however: “This is not about what is best for the TIA. The TIA is here only to serve the needs of the industry.”
The Search for a Home
Stern’s group is proposing showroom space at 7 West 34th St., which he said seems to meet criteria New York Toy Tenants set forth: sufficient showroom space; a Midtown location; short- and long-term lease options; and included build-outs.
“We’re not waiting for the TIA to make any decisions,” he said. “We’re doing whatever we can to move 7 West along."
A Forthcoming Vote
Still, the TIA maintains that manufacturers are showing little interest in building proposals.
“They have worked hard to present viable options, but the manufacturers aren’t jumping on it,” Keithley said. “If they felt that permanent showrooms made economic sense for them, they would sign up. … [and] the TIA would have to hold the event wherever they are.”
According to Keithley, the TIA Board, which he said comprises a balance of representatives from small, medium and large companies, will likely meet about the show in early March, considering cities such as Atlanta, Dallas and Los Angeles. There is no set voting date.
There also is no plan to change the February Toy Fair, Keithley noted, and TIA’s decision is revocable. “If we take the October 2007 show somewhere else, it doesn’t mean that we couldn’t move it back later,” he said.