Toy Fair: To Go or Not To Go, That Is the Question

To be, or not to be? That is the question—Whether ‘tis nobler in the mind to suffer The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, Or to take arms against a sea of troubles, And, by opposing, end them?”

Hamlet, William Shakespeare

There are two pandemics currently in play. One is, of course, Coronavirus (Omicron style), and the other is “decision fatigue.” Hence, the paraphrase from Hamlet that titles this article.

I am going to attend Toy Fair. That is, of course, easier for me to say than many of you because I live in New York City. However, I will also be in Germany for the Spielwarenmesse to present my talk on “Disruption in the Toy Industry.”

You may be feeling a bit indecisive about whether to make the trip to New York. Your concerns may be about Covid, or they may be about committing money when you are unsure of whether the show will take place or, if it does, be sufficiently attended.

I have, like you, had to think through the risks and rewards, and I have decided to be in Germany and New York. Here are my reasons:

  • Toy Fair is important to my business

Shows are essential for most of us who work in the toy industry. Our biggest companies don’t need them (they have their own gravity fields), but you and I do. We need to see people in order to create business opportunities, secure new clients, or write business. Out of sight is out of mind.

  • I find virtual shows to be boring

At least at this moment in time, virtual trade shows are less than compelling. They ask little more than you pay a small sum, sit in your office chair, and stare at a computer screen, something you do all the time. They, therefore, demand little emotional, financial, or physical investment and therefore require little in the form of urgency. Many of those who sign up either fail to tune in or, if tuned in, tune out.

  • The opportunity cost

What advantage does the competition gain if I do not attend? Do they secure business I may have gotten? Do they create new business relationships at my expense? If you are a toy company, do they gain listings and orders that would have been yours? If you are a buyer, are there new products or exclusives your competitors will secure because you missed the show?

  • More time to meet

There have been several shows that have taken place this year. I am told that those who attended were excited to see each other. They also said that there was more time for meetings because there were fewer attendees. Some appointments took place that would not have happened otherwise

  • The big toy brain

Toy Fair is the one time of the year where all of the component parts of the toy industry come together in one place. Inventors, designers, investors, buyers, sellers, marketers, publicists, operations, logistics, advertisers, safety inspectors, attorneys, media, intellectual property holders, licensors, licensees, those who just love toys, and more.

When we all get together, we form a giant brain (or a meta-brain to use modern parlance) that thinks up new ideas, foresees possible futures, and propels us forward. Each of us is a neuron, and all of us together is far smarter and more powerful than all of us apart.

  • The emotional bond

Those who attend will create deep bonds. I can remember those with me in New York during 9-11. Those who attend Toy Fair will find common cause with others who have done so as well.

Each of us must make our own decision. I am going. I have had my three covid shots and plan to self-test daily (it’s easy to do). Notably, The Toy Association is putting robust safety protocols in place, as has the Javits Center.

I have decided to attend because I consider it the best business decision for my company and me.

I hope you also decide to attend. I miss you.

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