In 2012, Dawn Wilensky wrote this great piece on surviving Toy Fair. Its a classic with a message that merits repeating.
Have you found yourself saying "there's got to be a better way" as you wrestle through the crowds, try to catch that ever elusive taxi or hunt for something palatable during mealtime at Javits Center during Toy Fair.
You are not alone as thousands who attend the annual trade show also grapple with these same challenges.
With this in mind, I asked Toy Fair veterans far and wide to divulge their deepest, darkest (alright maybe not so deep and dark), but nonetheless, useful secrets for surviving during those trying four days.
Here's what they said!
Leslye Schaefer, svp marketing & consumer products, Scholastic Media
"For my fellow female colleagues, it’s a must to wear comfortable shoes. The lower the heel the better! For everyone, be prepared for snow. Over the years, it has snowed during Toy Fair numerous times. Warm coats and boots are a good idea. Also, getting a cab outside of the Javits Center is tough at the end of the day. Make arrangements for a car service or hop on one of the Toy Fair buses to a hotel/midtown or a location where cabs will be more readily available."
Eric Levin, division head, Techno Source
"Toy Fair is unlike any other trade show out there. It's a grown-up's playground and you need to have fun. It's about bringing products to life for attendees through exciting play experiences. We always order the most padding possible for beneath our carpet to keep attendees' feet happy ."
Jen Derevensky, president of Ren Beanie Public Relations
"Alternate your shoes. Even comfortable shoes can hurt your feet after a full day of walking all over Javits and standing during showroom tours (not to mention hauling it through the streets of NYC!), so I always bring a second pair in my purse or laptop bag to change into midday. I find that alternating keeps my feet from hurting too much in one spot…and having happy feet makes for a much more successful show! I always carry snacks like almonds and high protein granola bars. They help keep your energy up, especially where there's no time to eat between appointments.
David Blanchard, director of sales & marketing, The Haywire Group, Inc.
"Purell liberally and stay hydrated! Take it from one who spent the latter half of Toy Fair last year a lovely shade of green."
Tami Murphy, marketing manager, The Haywire Group, Inc.
"Hydration is definitely key! Find a bathroom off the beaten path – the ones in the trade show hall are ridiculously crowded! The pre-made salads in the food court are good – though have a Tide pen handy because if you're like me, I am eating between talking to people in the booth and I ALWAYS drop a leaf of lettuce covered in salad dressing on my clothes! And I couldn't survive the week without "gellin'" – yes, that's right those shoe inserts work great."
Ashley Mady, president, Brandberry
"I always try to make a friend while hailing a cab from Javits! It enhances your odds of getting in a cab sooner, it's a great ice breaker and you may just be able to make a deal or pitch a property during the ride."
Norma Rosenfeld, president of Rosenfield Public Relations
"Attend an offsite event nearby and take advantage of shuttle service to and from the Javits so you don't have to worry about transportation!
Jay Foreman, president & ceo of The Bridge Direct
"Stay on the West side of midtown for easy access across town from your hotel to the convention center, especially if it snows. Also, use the shuttle buses as taxis are hard to come by when the show closes.
Lisa Orman, president of KidStuff Public Relations
"If you're a TIA member, you can get free copies if you have an emergency in their lower level office. If you're an ASTRA member, you can bypass the line and get free coat check and baggage check at their member lounge in the lower level. Come at the beginning of the day so you can quit a little early and avoid the huge shuttle bus line."
Richard Gottlieb, president of USA Toy Experts LLC
"Keep in mind that there is a cab shift between 4pm and 5pm."
Philip Bloom, president of Philip A. Bloom & Associates, publishers of the Bloom Report
"When making appointments, try to avoid having to go from one end of the show to the other as much as possible to maximize time spent with suppliers, rather than waste time in getting to your appointments! Use a floor plan (see the TIA Toy Fair website) and make appointments by aisle (or at least by 2-3 aisles), that way, you're always near your next appointment. It's a little harder to do when working with a rep (who may want to show you his/her many lines that are all over the show), but if you leave your appointments with reps until near the end of the day, you are still able to make many appointments by aisle. And don't forget…leave time to walk to entire show looking for booths you haven't got appointments with…you never know what great item(s) might be lurking in the next aisle."
The staff at Litzky Public Relations
"Buy Starbucks on your way to the venue to avoid the long lines. When exiting Penn Station, get in the cab line on 8th Ave instead of 7th, it is much shorter, and it is going in the direction of Javits. Buy gum, bottled water and other items off-site to save a few bucks. If you’re commuting from North Jersey, the ferries from Weehawken and Hoboken are the most direct route – they drop you off right behind Javits and make sure your phone and laptop are fully charged in the morning – good luck finding an outlet where you can plug in (aside from in your own booth, if available).
And, don’t forget the 7 Train now travels right to Hudson Yards / Javits Center plus we now live in the age of Uber and Lyft making them and and as a result taxis much more accessible. Taxis and ride share now depart from the 1st level of the Center. Get the app – https://www.core-apps.com/dl/toyfairny2020 Download the TFNY event app now to get the most from your experience. Google Play and Apple Store FREE. Have a great show!
Great tips Dawn. It’s nice to be reminded of these things now while we are prepping for battle. Thanks.