Recently my team and I tackled the 109th International Toy Fair in New York City – the 30th Toy Fair of my career (I've only missed a couple since 1979, don’t’cha know). What used to last three weeks is more like three or four days today. We knocked 'em dead! We worked feverishly, pitching our products in 23 presentation meetings in addition to a number of other line viewings and meetings over the span of 3½ days of what seemed like real, honest-to-gosh work.
Please excuse me if I take a moment to strut and crow like a rooster at dawn. It was a highly successful Toy Fair for our Lund and Company team. People loved our products and I predict we will be delighted with the results over time. We wowed 'em, we did, with the variety and innovation of some, and the elegance and humor of other products we showed. We worked harder and more effectively at this Toy Fair than at any other in our company's history. Go team!
So, how does an inventor best tackle a Toy Fair? Should you spend your time on tours of showrooms seeing what others are bringing to market, as we have for so many years? Should you leave Toy Fair with so much information overload that it leaves you struggling afterwards to remember what you saw, where, and what value that information might have, and what new ideas it might suggest, if any?
That is just what we used to do year after year. After each show we would ask ourselves why and what was the benefit of doing that. We would disdain to show products during the show explaining to ourselves and others that it was not a good time because those reviewing product were too overwhelmed to give our product a fair evaluation.
Yet, every year at Toy Fair, we would see other inventors sit in their hotel rooms hour after hour, day after day, meeting with any and all companies that were hunting for new products. They would never step out to see what hot new items were being shown at the fair. They successfully sold products, if not every hour, then certainly at the clip of several a day.
In time we have come to do the same. There are few places and events that have the concentration of 'product pickers,' those scouring the world for new concepts for their upcoming lines, than Toy Fair. These people are our prey, and in turn, they are the hunter-gatherers that need to bring their finds back to the thresholds of their respective companies to feed their need for new product every year.
Thus, at Toy Fair we offer up our products hour after hour and day after day to all who seek products of the sort we create. There is a caveat, however. In the past we worked with any and all, servicing the trade: the large and small, the good, the bad, and the scoundrels – first come, first served. But in the fullness of time we have decided we will be more discriminating about whom we work with.
Whether it be a new company or old, large or small, if they are decent, honest people that we like and deserve to be offered our product, we will work with them. Those who are not found to be respectful, or choose to deal unfairly with others, particularly those smaller than them, will no longer be offered access to the products we create – the sweat of our collective brows.
In the future, as life truly is too short, we will only work with those companies we like, those we trust, those who treat our friends fairly. After all, a friend of my friend is my friend, too. And an enemy of my friend can not be my friend. We all choose who we will work with as well as the moral tenets by which we conduct ourselves and expect of others.
Our goal is to be always better than expected, to under-promise and over-deliver, and to always be above reproach in all our dealings. Saints we are not, but we are called to treat others as we wish to be treated. Not all do feel this way, however. Respectfully and cordially, we may decline the pleasure of their business.
For all of you in the toy business, I hope it is a really terrific year. Make great product because toys matter!