Toy Industry Association
TOY FAIR 2003: 'SOLID HIT' DESPITE MOTHER NATURE'S CURVE BALL
100th Annual Event 'Plows On' Through NYC Blizzard of '03
NEW YORK, March 14, 2003 - American International TOY FAIR™ retained its status as the premier toy trade event and "the place to be for the world's toy industry." Despite a two-foot snowfall in midtown Manhattan and a heightened terrorism alert, Toy Industry Association (TIA™) President Tom Conley announced today that "TOY FAIR 2003 was a very successful show, a solid hit for the toy manufacturers, retailers and other industry members who were not dissuaded from participating in our 100th anniversary event." The show was held February 16-19 at the Javits Center and in showrooms in the Toy District. TOY FAIR, the largest toy trade show in the Western Hemisphere, is owned and managed by TIA, the industry's New York City-based trade group.
"TOY FAIR participants managed to overcome multiple obstacles this year to work and attend the show," said show director Laura N. Greene, TIA's Vice President of Trade Shows & Meetings, noting that feedback from exhibitors and retailers was "extremely positive, with many reassuring reports of an excellent show experience." Ms. Greene added: "In this most unusual year, buyer attendance was indeed down. The reluctance on the part of many to fly, the weakened economy and the inability of many regional attendees to travel to Manhattan due to the blizzard helped depress attendance. We were predicting a far larger attendance than the previous year based on excellent pre-registration figures. When the security alert was raised, we realized then that our predictions for buyer turnout would not come about." According to Ms. Greene, the total number of buyers attending the show exceeded 11,000, of which close to 20 percent were from 80 countries outside the U.S. These retailer attendees represented 80% percent of the total sales buying power of the toy industry, a retail market estimated at $20.3 billion in 2002.
"In spite of the challenges, our exhibitors received excellent value from show attendees," Ms. Greene reported. Frank DiLorenzo, President, R&R Games, Inc. of Tampa, FL, said: "My company had a phenomenal TOY FAIR this year," while Bill Bordegon, Vice President of Marketing & Sales, Action Products International, an Orlando, FL-based educational toy manufacturer, noted: "In many cases, the single orders written with our independent specialty toy dealers at this year's show represent the entire amount of business we did together in 2002." Patrick Palumbo, president of Wildlife Creations International Inc. of Phillipsburg, NJ, agreed. The outdoor play equipment manufacturer "wrote enough business for the next three years," Mr. Palumbo said. Chicago, IL-based Radio Flyer Inc., which had exhibits at both the Javits Center and the International Toy Center, "had the company's best TOY FAIR ever," according to Robert Pasin, president of the family-owned producer of the "little red wagon" and other ride-on toys. "From the buzz we generated with the 'World's Largest Wagon' at Javits to the great appointments at our showroom, we left the show with tremendous momentum for the year," Mr. Pasin said.
Retailers were equally enthused, according to Ms. Greene, and pleased with the "quality and variety of product." Noted Wal-Mart Stores Inc.'s Excell La Fayette, Jr., Director of Supplier Development: "This was my first TOY FAIR, and despite the weather hampering attendance, overall I thought it was a great event. I especially liked the pavilions at Javits - Game Zone, Collectible Dolls, Miniatures and Plush and others." Specialty toy retailer Joanne Farrugia agreed: "The pavilions allow me to focus on what I do," said the owner of the three-store chain of JaZams toy stores, based in the Princeton, NJ area. "The suppliers in the Specialty Source area had especially terrific products," Ms. Farrugia said. In addition to thousands of independent retailers, buyers from key chains such as Big Lots Stores, FAO Inc., KB Toys, Meijer Stores, J.C. Penney Company, ShopKo Stores, Target Stores and Toys "R" Us were in attendance.
Exhibitor participation was up from last year, Ms. Greene said, both in number and square footage of space sold. A total of 1,707 companies exhibited at the show: 1,402 at the Javits Center, covering 352,545 net square feet of exhibit space, with another 305 in showrooms at the International Toy Center and other buildings in the Toy District.
TOY FAIR trade guests included licensors, inventors, non-exhibiting manufacturers and related industry personnel, in excess of 6,700 including 1,088 representatives from 56 countries outside the U.S. A total of 892 print and broadcast reporters, including 52 representatives from 11 countries, also attended the show, providing international, national and local editorial coverage.
Attendance at this year's TOY FAIR conference program sessions at the Javits Center rose 21%, despite the adverse weather conditions that occurred on the two days (February 17-18) of the program schedule. Attendees at the 15 sessions heard presentations on topical issues, such as: marketing to U.S. Hispanic youth; intellectual property law; opportunities in the special needs market; the recent West Coast labor dispute; and the C-PTAT Cargo Security Program, as well as the annual update on toy safety.
The 100th anniversary show opened with a record-breaking event: a total of 3,314 TOY FAIR participants created the "world's largest ribbon-cutting ceremony" at the Javits Center, to officially open TOY FAIR's centennial celebration on Sunday, February 16. Stationed along 6,450 feet of continuous ribbon, which stretched throughout both exhibit levels at the convention center, special guests and exhibitors simultaneously snipped the ribbon, helping to break the current Guinness World Record of 3,238 participants. TIA will be registering the event with Guinness for inclusion in their publication.
Mark your calendars early! TOY FAIR 2004 show dates are February 15-18, with Buyer Preview days at showroom locations opening February 12. Exhibitor and attendee information is available on the TIA website at www.toy-tia.org/AITF or by calling fax-on-demand at 212-675-1540.
Toy Industry Association, Inc., formerly known as Toy Manufacturers of America, was established in 1916 and is the trade association for North American producers and importers of toys, games and entertainment products for children and families (regular members). In addition, associate membership in the trade group is open to design firms, professional inventors, toy testing laboratories, manufacturers' sales representatives, licensors, marketing and promotion firms, safety and/or communications consultants, and related associations and trade publications.
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