Reports on shows, trends, and more
Two Reports from Toy Fair
Add it to the list of bustling,
productive winter shows.
Staff Report (February 20, 2012)
Before the show opened, Gifts & Decorative
Accessories/Playthings magazine quoted Mark Rappaport, President
of Marky Sparky Toys, saying, "I see Toy Fair as we know it
becoming more and more obsolete….I predict Toy Fair, as it
now stands, moving the way of the Toy Building: Gone."
That's not the way it turned out.
Attendance was up 4%, including almost 16,000
buyers and 1,000+ exhibitors. Reporting for Global Toy News,
Richard Gottlieb wrote, "I have spoken to a great number of people
and all are musing over the question, 'Where did all these people
come from?'" (Comment: That's exactly what many said about
the CHA show.)
Here are reports from our industry vendors who
1. I have exhibited at Toy Fair
since 1994 and have always marveled at the diversity of retail and
end use that the attending buyers represent. That diversity of
course means it can be like looking for a needle in a haystack to
find buyers whose merchandise strategy is in line with your product
categories. It's a tough sell getting a doll store or a train shop
to carry our kid's craft or jewelry programs!
Retailers in attendance cover the spectrum,
from wholesale clubs and department stores to specialty mass
retailers -- and more catalog and web retailers than ever!
The traffic this year felt like it continued
the trend that has been in place since the mid-90's: slight decline
or at best holding steady to the year prior. This is largely thought
to be due to an ongoing decline of independent retailers. The number
of international buyers seemed consistent; there are always many,
from all corners of the globe.
The general tone among the international and
chain buyers was positive, with a more cautiously optimistic tone
prevalent among the domestic independent retailers.
Order writing was generally down, with numerous
independent, single-store retailers (mostly Eastern seaboard) noting
a very soft January and the need to keep inventories lean through the
first quarter. This sentiment suppressed show orders when compared
to the past few years. Since it is the smaller retailers who tend to
write show orders, this came as no big surprise.
Most, if not all, of the major chains from
within our industry were represented (Michaels, Hobby Lobby, A.C.
Moore, etc.) and plenty from other channels with relevance to
crafts. A number of good independent craft retailers and
distributors were there as well.
A comment that was heard quite often was, "Does
Amazon carry this?" It seems that independent and chain retailers,
plus distributors, believe they are losing sales to Amazon or Amazon
based e-tailers and are concerned about the trend going forward.
For my company, the CHA and Toy Fair
shows both showed improvement in terms of "major leads," but only
the CHA showed growth in show orders written as well. -- Tom
Lonergan, Exec VP, Janlynn Corporation
2. I thought Toy Fair this year was very busy and
bustling. The atmosphere was upbeat. Manufacturers that I talked to
said they were writing orders.
Manufacturers were also talking about "Made in
America." The ones whose products are made in the U.S. were quick to
point that out when they talked to retailers in their booths. It has
always been an issue, but much more so recently.
Personally, I spoke to manufacturers who were
desperately trying to move their manufacturing from overseas to the
U.S., but couldn't justify the cost. A first-time exhibitor with a
new product picked my brain about it a little. She told me that
manufacturing overseas makes her product $4 each wholesale.
Manufacturing in the U.S. would double it. What should she do -- did
I think "Made in America" was important enough to toy retailers (and
really the consumers) that they'd pay more?
I think all manufacturers are struggling with
that same question.
The diversity of the quality of the products
exhibited always astounds me. It ranges from the inexpensive plush
and novelties that carnivals give as prizes, to really high-end
wooden toys and furniture made in Europe. Buyers really have to sift
through it all to pick what's right for them. Huge companies like
Melissa & Doug, Lego, Hasbro and others "exhibit" in huge enclosed
booths at the Javits Center; some require an appointment. Their
setup replaces a showroom they might have had if the Toy Building at
200 Fifth Avenue still existed. There was a place for incubator
companies called "Launch Pad." Looking at the exhibitor list, I
noticed that there were a lot of first-time exhibitors. -- Tina Manzer,
Editor of Art Materials Retailer and CHA's new member
magazine, Craft Industry Today.