To many of you, the cancellation of Toy Fair is a relief, to some a disappointment, and to others a disaster. Toy Fair, which, before last year, had only been canceled once (World War II), will not take place again this year (it even took place during the 1919 flu epidemic).
No one is at fault. Some were scared about Covid, others about losing money due to low attendance. The Toy Association had to make a tough business decision.
I believe Toy Fair could have taken place, although with fewer exhibitors and attendees. What killed it was that those who decided not to come made news while those who were coming went unnoticed. It was the classic case of “Man Bites Dog” versus “Dog Bites Man.” A downside to a digital age in which news goes viral, sometimes before verification.
The decision not to hold Toy Fair will have long-lasting effects. There are young members of our industry who do not have the history of Toy Fair attendance in their bones. They are digital natives who already discount physical contact. They will grow up to be leaders in our industry in which their seminal years were spent attending Zoom calls. Toy Fair will have far less emotional meaning for them.
Toy companies are learning that they can go to market without having the expense (anywhere from a quarter of a million to half a million dollars and more ) to build and ship booths while sending staff to work their exhibit space. These companies may find that they can forgo Toy Fair and put their year together from a distance.
What does this mean? It could mean that a 100 plus year rite of passage could slip away through a lack of passion and interest. All the non-monetary advantages of attending the show would also slip away if it does. It would mean that we will no longer be getting the big Toy Fair family together.
How many sales were made because the buyer could touch the product?
How much business was saved because of a seller’s ability to read body language.
How many friendships did we make because of Toy Fair?
How much did each of us learn from attending Toy Fair?
How many deals were done due to chance meetings?
How many new ideas were created?
How many memories do all of us have?
Is Toy Fair an essential part of the toy industry’s year? We are about to find out.