50 Years in the Toy Business; Jim Meyer Says Thank You

Guest-writer (1)
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We at Global Toy News do not typically publish articles of this length nor ones that are as personal as this one is. Never-the-less, 50 years in the toy business is a landmark event and one that needs to be celebrated. That is why we are publishing this piece by Jim Meyer. 
 
Jim  has over 50 years of experience in the toy business, including positions with Tyco Toys/Mattel, FAO Schwarz, KB Toys and etoys.  Over the course of his career, Jim  has made over 30 trips to Asia and Europe and has attended well over 50 major toy fairs. Here is Jim's letter to the entire toy industry.
 
I would like to take this opportunity to thank the entire toy industry for FIFTY WONDERFUL YEARS that I have spent with all of you! (No, I’m not retiring now, just marking a big milestone!).  Never did I imagine that I would have ended up in such a wonderful industry that has afforded me so much fun, taught me so much, and allowed me to work with some of the most amazing people in the entire universe.

From a beginning in 1968 working in a warehouse in Los Angeles for Toy World stores, packing orders for the toy stores while working my way through college, to owning my own franchise toy store in my 20’s, buying for some amazing retailers, opening 3 big box toy stores for a Saudi Prince in Saudi Arabia, to now, owning my own consulting business and in an industry that has afforded me and my family such a wonderful life and career.

Working for Duane Hedke, Jack Guenthard, and Ron Qualls in my first buying job gave me so much valuable education as they guided me through their decision making after basically every sales presentation:  why they were buying something, why they weren’t, the presentation of the salesman, what to watch for, retailing the product, negotiation skills, merchandising the product, pricing the product, the deal from the vendor, etc..  And then following them through my first New York Toy Fair in 1975 was just exhilarating. Every new buyer should have such great training.  This was an excellent group of mentors that have given me such a phenomenal base of knowledge of the industry, knowledge that I have used throughout my career and that I still use today.

Exciting things happened along the way such as all the buyers at Rasco Stores voting 100% no on my very first presentation for an advertised item in the company circular (welcome to buying! It was a joke, and I got the item in after all), a visit to my office from the FBI to ask why I was trying to export explosives (Estes Rocket Engines-Who knew they were gunpowder?) to Saudi Arabia for a Saudi Prince, creating a $100,000 Monopoly game for FAO Schwarz, buying and selling 2 REAL customized Pokemon Volkswagons for FAO Schwarz, meeting tons of celebrities in many of my industry positions, playing golf with the Undertaker, doing TV interviews, producing a TV commercial, traveling all over the world, and many, many more unbelievable experiences that I will carry with me forever.

There were some bad things along the way as well.  Too many funerals.  Watching the twin towers go down from a showroom at 1107 Broadway in New York on 9/11, and a heart attack in 2004.  Many thanks to all my friends who also sent along their prayers and good wishes and a roomful of flowers during my hospitalization.  

The hardest part was moving 23 times back and forth across the country in my career (welcome to retail!).  My 3 wonderful daughters, Kim, Keri, and Kristi, stayed with me through all the moves, and now all have wonderful lives and children, and we have 5 grandchildren to be proud of as well.  And to my wife, Judy, who has been along and supporting me during the last ten years of this wild ride.

Please allow me to thank a lot of wonderful and special people by name, and if I forgot you, I’m sorry, it was not intentional.  Take a walk through my career in the toy industry with me and also to remember fondly those in this list that have passed on. Many of these people have gone on to bigger and better things in the toy industry and were all well appreciated in how they helped me along the way!

South Bay Wholesale

Los Angeles, Calif

Warehouse Clerk

Tim Galvin- Warehouse Manager-who hired me into the toy industry first in 1968!

Best memory- Promoted from packing toys to delivery, then to eventually Receiving Clerk.

Toy World/Rasco Stores

Burbank, Calif.

Buyer

Best memory- My education in learning the toy business

Duane Hedke-Senior Buyer

Jack Guenthard-Buyer

Ron Qualls-Buyer, District Manager

Henry Eudey- VP Stores

Pasadena Community College

Pasadena, Calif

Adjunct Professor- Marketing 1A

Best Memory- Teaching students about marketing in the toy industry

Toy World Franchise Store #751- Laguna Hills Mall

Laguna Hills, Calif

Franchise Toy Store Owner

Best memory- Learning how to run a successful operation/making 6 figure income in my 20’s (#4 volume store in a chain of 50 toy stores) & won company sales contest and a cruise!

Federal Wholesale

Houston, Tx & Sacramento, Calif

Key Account Sales

Best memory- Great income/learning the sales side.  Tremendous support from management and key account (Gemco)

Bill Bernstein- Co-Owner

Uncle Miltie-Milt Miller- Co-Owner

Les Mendelsohn-Buyer

Richie Miller-Buyer

Ed Bernstein-Buyer

Bob Pennes- VP of Sales

Blatt Distributing/Bercor

La Mirada, Calif

Buyer

Best memory- Opening 3 big box toy stores in Saudi Arabia for a Prince

Jerry Blatt- Owner

Margie Blatt- VP

Henry Zanville- VP Buying

Bill Berman- VP Buying

Bernie Herman-Buyer

Sol Kaufman-Buyer

Linda Breese- Sales Manager

Rick Berman- VP Sales

Child World

Avon, Mass

Buyer

Best memory- Being the 2ndhighest volume boy’s toy buyer in the industry

Paul Demty- Merchandise Manager

Paul Warner- Merchandise Manager

Stan Walsh- VP Merchandising

Leo Crowley- VP Merchandising

Christy Serra-Buyer

Deborah Terrell-Buyer

Chuck Millington-Buyer

Norm Kesselman-Buyer

Deran Muckjian-Buyer

Sandy Alemian-Goldberg- Buyer

Ames Department Stores

Rocky Hill, Conn

Buyer

Best memory- Great people/great divisional manager

Bob Goldstein-DMM

Greg Thuotte-Buyer

Dick Dibble-Buyer

Jeff Burdelski-Buyer

Hills Department Stores

Canton, Mass

Buyer

Best memory- Getting acknowledged in front of the entire company for highest increase over plan EVER and largest bonus for a buyer EVER!

Joe Mullen-VP Merchandising

Manny Francione- VP Merchandising

Fred Hurley-DMM

Ron Rycek-Buyer

Rich Ryan-Buyer

Jon Roman-Buyer

Tom Smith- Buyer

Terry Doyle-Buyer

Rich’s Department Stores

Salem, Mass

Divisional Merchandise Manager-Toys, Sporting Goods, Luggage

Best memory- Having a great buying staff

Greg Figurido- VP Merchandising

Tyco Toys

Mount Laurel, NJ

Senior Director-Marketing and product development-Import division

Best memory- Learning the back-of-the-house business in toys

Jim Alley-Senior VP Marketing

Gene Murtha-VP Marketing

Amy Pruzansky-Product Manager

Jennifer Cleary- Asst Product Manager

Frank Ponton- Engineer

Mark Sullivan-VP Marketing

Jeff Kahan-VP Sales

Bob Grey-VP Sales

Bob Schleicher-VP Sales

Ron Brawer-Senior Director, Marketing

Mike Weisman-VP Sales-import division

Richie Weintraub- VP Product Development

Mattel Toys

El Segundo, Calif

Senior Director- Matchbox

Best memory- Producing my first TV commercial

Jill Barad-CEO

Milt Zablow-VP Sales

Michael Tsiakaros-VP Sales, Arco

Tim Kilpin-Exec VP Marketing

Fred Okun-Senior VP Merchandising

Paul Souza- Sales Director

FAO Schwarz

New York, NY

Vice President, Senior Buyer

Best memory- Creating $100,000 Monopoly game (solid gold pieces, jewel encrusted board & real money)

John Eyler- CEO

David Niggli-Exec VP Merchandising

Bill Miller- Exec VP Advertising

Lauryce Graves-Senior VP, Merchandising

Marnie Lawrence-VP, Senior Buyer

Mary Hennessey-VP, Senior Buyer

Claudia Sandoval- VP, Senior Buyer

Steve Benoff- Asst Buyer

Kelly Winnik- Asst Buyer

Beth Griffin- Asst Buyer

KB Toys

Pittsfield, Mass

Senior Buyer

Best memory- Having a great group of people to work with

Sal Vasta- Exec VP, Merchandising

Tom Alfonsi- Senior VP, Merchandising

CB Alberts-DMM

David Novitsky-DMM

Charlie Wendell-Asst Buyer

Bob Edwards-Asst Buyer

Len Patnode-Senior Buyer

Chris Duquette- Buyer

Ed Supple- Buyer

Vince Iannacito- DMM

EToys

Pittsfield, Mass

Director, Buyer

Best memory- Maximizing sales and beating a major heart attack

Fred Hurley-VP Merchandising

Gerard Prince-Director, Buyer

Mike Moynihan-Director, Buyer

Pete Stathatos- Senior Planner

Kelly McGivern- Planner extroidinaire

JFK Sullivan- Buyer

Heather Wadsworth- Administrator

Duckwall/Alco Stores

Abilene, Kansas

Senior Buyer

Best memory- My Resignation- PRICELESS!!!

Kansas was pretty- That pretty much says it all

Woot

Carrolton, Texas

Category Manager, Toys

Best memory- Starting up Woot/KIDS and responsible for doing 80% of total KIDS business

Matt Rutledge-CEO, Founder

Darold Rydl-Exec VP

John Wesner-VP

Julie Kramer-DMM

Robert Baron- Director, Special Projects

Ben Leibold- Merchandiser

Christine English- Senior Category Manager

Lee Ann Holland- Senior Category Manager

Brandi Aslanian- Category Manager

Jessy Donahue- Category Manager

Angelo Moretto- VP, Wholesale Division

Henry Price- Sales, Wholesale Division

Pat Skelly- Sales, Wholesale Division

JIMM Business Solutions, LLC

Lewisville, Texas

President, Owner

Best memory- Owning my own business again

And last, but not least, in no particular order, I would like to thank the following people that I have worked with, and those that have helped me so much to succeed and be who I am today, and who I have the honor of saying, are all my friends.  

Irwin Sherman

Bernie Libou

Fred Kort

Jack Friedman

Gene Kay

Don Zuckerman

Jerry Garfinkle

Allen Berke

Donna Carretta

Dick Emerine

Richard Puntar

Joyce Middlestead

John Schutz

Rod Spongberg

Tom Cleary                                                      

Jerry Cleary

Jeff Chernick                                                                               

Roger Shiffman

Jonathan Samet

Arnie Rubin

Leo Goshgarian

Robbie Kanoff

Nancy Beard

Henry Unger

Arthur Perlis

Bob Leff

Laura McManemin

Harvey Prince

Tim Wills

Cathy Shull

Bill Beebe

Gina Beebe

Steve Springer

Ron Welch

Glen Boucher

Jack Williams

Bruce Lehrman

Karen Quadrio

Larry Scott

Neil Parkhurst

Neil Friedman

Pete Kelly

Jeff Falke

Jack McGrath

Steven Berman

Steven Kort

Jordan Kort

Art Janis

Anton Rabie

Charlie Emby

Tom Lowe

Peter Yanofsky

Richard Yanofsky

Allen Hassenfeld

Brian Goldner

Todd McFarlane

Merryl Reynolds

Mike Beachnau

Keith Billian

Bazil Grabovsky

Ryan Logan

Bruce Bradley

Carmine Russo

Roger Shiffman

Vic Bertrand, Jr

Sylvia Wong

YK Chan

B.K. Ma

Rich Henry

Bob LaPlaca

Hal Monchik

Les Friedland

Ivan Resnick

Craig Louisiana

Ron Platt

Phil Jacobs

Randy Karp

Kevin McNulty

Linda Frankel

Norm Anctil

Brenda Gaudenzi

Bob Simmons

Joe Lingg

Gail Jackman

Ludger Busch

Murray Bass

Alan Hess

Jim Skahill

Vic Petrone

Ross Smith

Gary Eaton

Brian Rubinstein

Ron Cohen

Len Latona

Isaac Larian

Bruce Katz

Ken Adams

Andrea Klein

Lee Leibold

Gene McKeown

Mike Tedeschi

Jay Dworsky

Pam Bernard

John Sohigian

Ron Lokos

Betsy Harrington

Norm Cohen

Mark Love

Fred Ertl, Jr

Bill Metz

Mez Markowitz

Henry Asher

Pete Asher

Tom Davidson

Larry Falcon

Mike Beachnau

David Canner

Ron Cohen

Irving Bravman

Bob Coones

Scott McCabe

Steve Springer

Doug Putnam

Ed Gershowitz

Oliver Chan

George Funk

Mac Prupes

Dan Spinazzola

Mike Ferris

Dan Goerdt

Jerry Kuenster

Randy Karp

Kathy Lietzau

Amy Scott

Bob Emerine

Angelo Scarola

Sid Strand

Steve Polansky

Tom Strauss

Steve Schile

Roger Richards

Bob Leff

Bill Konkel

Ellen Craig

Doug Putnam

Don Melcher

Harry Lehran

Ed Chanda

Fred Fortier

David Deans

Stephen Forst

Steve Beilman

2 thoughts

  1. Hay Jim just browsing my I pad and came across your news letter wow so interesting brings back great memories for me as well the first time I met you was at child world And our dear fried Bernie libou ( I get choked up just writing his name) said I will like working with you. You are a good guy fair and very knowledgeable we get a long great. And was invited to your home for dinner our friendship still lasts to this day March 9 2020. We are blessed by the all mighty To live this long and share great memories and future stories. Thanks for letting me into your journey. Enjoy life. Your friend Jeff Chernick I am in Thailand now for the winter

  2. Thank you for an interesting article that I can relate to. The ending reads:
    “…Please remember fondly those that have passed on!” Followed by a list of recognized names. This gives the impression that the list is of deceased veterans of the Toy Industry, especially because I recognize some of the initial names such as Jack Friedman and Fred Kort (RIP) – however I recognize several friends later on (i.e. Alan Hassenfeld, Neil Friedman, Hal Monchik) that are, to my knowledge alive. Therefore, kindly review this impression.
    Congratulations on a life-time career, ALMOST as long as mine in the Toy Industry!
    Jay Horowitz

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