Why We Go To Toy Fair - Or Stay Home!
With additional reporting by Chris Lundy and Brenda Ruggiero
New York International Toy Fair may be the biggest toy event in the US - but is it the most important? TDmonthly Magazine interviewed several specialty retailers to get the inside scoop on why so many attend the show, and why others opt out.
"NYITF is pretty big...We try to look at every product and every booth, and it is a lot to cover. Every company has something different and new to examine and explore, and in order to be able to explain and transfer the information to our customers we try to become as knowledgeable as possible," Barb Stine, owner of Toys on the Square in Hershey, Pa., told us.
Jpe Berardoni, owner of Puns Toys in Bryn Mawr, Pa., said "I plan to attend. I’ve only missed two Fairs in the last thirty-three years (due to illness). I find it a great chance to not only see first-hand all the new products but also a great source of renewed interest and excitement after a normally draining fourth quarter."
"It is still vital for us to go and meet with vendors and see new products, and it is one of a few shows we attend," Kim Emigh from Growing Tree Toys in State College, Pa., told TDmonthly.
Tye Steinbach, owner of Thinker Toys in Portland, Ore., always attends the show - as long as the weather cooperates with travel. "We get a really good opportunity to see things we might not see elsewhere," he said of the show. They've done ASTRA, but Toy Fair has a larger sampling of new product lines. "You can get that one line that could pay for your trip if you're lucky."
Isaac Gurock, head of operations at Magic Beans in Brookline, Mass., agreed that you need to attend the fair to stay on top of the latest trends. "You can always find out what the best sellers are 6 months from now, but if you want them, you have to go to Toy Fair."
Mike Snyder, owner and manager of Cville's Hobbies, Games and Toys in Charlottesville, Va., thinks attending the show is essential. "I think it's very important. Toy Fair is the only one we go to but I think it's absolutely necessary. It really helps to touch the stuff, because you can't always tell by the picture," he said.
Some retailers go not only for the sneak peak at new products, but also for the excitement. "It's inspiring. It gets you recharged. You get ideas," Mary Walsh-Martel, owner of Magical Child in Greenfield, Ma., told us.
Not to Go
Not every retailer we spoke with was planning to attend.
"We don’t have the time, and honestly don’t need to go because we can source what we need from the catalogs. We find new things by reading kid magazines, reviews, etc., and just by listening to our kid customers," Mary Porter Green, owner of Curiosity Zone in Ashburn, Va. explained.
Nathan McKelvey, manager of Toy Castle in Jonesboro, Ark., is staying at home for practical reasons. "It's too much of an expense. We usually go to Dallas instead," he said.
If you are attending the show, never fear. You can find out about new toys and Toy Fair show specials from exclusive manufacturers in our Toy Fair Booths to Visit article.
And, you can make the most of your time at the show by utilizing the tips in our article Preparing For Toy Fair - Tips and Tricks for Retailers!
Justina Huddleston graduated Magna Cum Laude from Emerson College with a BA in Writing, Literature, and Publishing in 2009. After graduating she was the on-site director of the Boston Children's Museum gift store for a year, selling educational, developmental, and creative activity toys that tied in with the museum's exhibits. Justina also interned at children's book publisher Candlewick Press before moving from Boston to Los Angeles, where she is now Editorial Director of TDmonthly Magazine
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