Keep Toy Fair in The Big Apple!

If it moves, Toy Fair will become impermanent, and impermanence is where irrelevance begins.

As you have learned by now, The Toy Association is considering moving Toy Fair out of New York. The first Toy Fair took place in 1903. Since then, I do not believe thought has ever been given to moving the show to a different city.

Each year I publish a piece I wrote entitled “The Gathering of the Tribes.” It is a celebration of Toy Fair as the industry’s gathering place for its scattered people. Here is how I put it:

Every year at this time, I get that sense of anticipation, knowing that our tribal get-together, Toy Fair, is about to commence.  In my mind’s eye, I can look out into the distance and almost see them coming:  The Toy and Game Inventors, Designers, Packagers, Publicists, Manufacturers, Retailers, Advertisers, Journalists, Agents, and Sales Representatives…I believe that it is this mingling of the tribes that is the most important function that Toy Fair provides.

We in the toy industry are a scattered and migratory people. We travel what I like to call “the toy highway.” We work from distant cities, chancing upon each other as we appear in Hong Kong, London, or Nuremberg. A scattered people needs a place of permanence where they can gather.

Toy Fair is, therefore, more than a trade fair. It is a ritual. It is a place where we gather together in one place to buy and sell and embrace and renew, to celebrate and decry in booths, on bar stools, in restaurants, and hotel suites, just as we have done for the last 119 years.

And the toy industry complains. The hotel and food costs are too high, the weather is terrible, our flights got canceled, and why do those weird people wander the show on the last day. Yet, the complaining is embedded in the fabric of memory. These are the war stories that toy people were telling in the 1920s and now in the 2020s.

After 119 years, Toy Fair and New York are deeply entwined. I think The Toy Association would be making a major error if it moved Toy Fair out of New York City. Toy Fair would become just another show, taking place in sequence of pro forma convention centers in a series of cities. If it moves, Toy Fair will become impermanent, and impermanence is where irrelevance begins.

We live in chaotic times. At such times we look to our institutions to provide us with a sense of stability. This is not the time to ponder change. The Toy Association, and all of us, need to take a deep breath and a long view.

Toy Fair can be better. The Toy Association can hold additional events, in other locations. However, this is not the right time to destabilize our most important institution.

Toy Fair is important to all of us. The whole, and that includes each of us, is far, far greater than its parts. Leave Toy Fair in New York City.

4 thoughts

  1. You shouldn’t fear change. In business, if you don’t change you die off. Look at Toys R Us. They held on to the past and look where they are now? Toy Fair has been cancelled two years in a row due to the city it’s been chained to. It could have been held in another state without the restrictions and the tribe gathering you hold so dear could have continued. I think a democratic way to proceed would be to hold a vote on the location. Let the industry decide.

      1. The survey was a one question survey: “Are you attending?” There was no comment section or follow up questions such as “If it was moved to another city would you attend?”. You can’t accurately predict that it had nothing to do with it being in New York. That question wasn’t asked.
        We answered the one question survey with “no. I will not attend”. Our reason was because it was in New York. I understand those who live in New York and have offices in New York (like the author of this website) want to keep it in New York. I understand the reason given for keeping it in New York is because it’s always been in New York. Again, don’t fear change. It can be a good thing.

    1. Bill, the industry is deciding. The board of directors who were elected to represent the industry will be deciding iTs fate. They were elected by the members of the association to make these decisions, so it is democratic.

      I’m not saying I agree with moving it, but there are more factors than you may know moving here. The toy association has to rent out the javitz. Which they did. They pay in advance, vendors are given the option for a refund or having the payment go for the next show. So the association had to pay out all the operating expenses zig the show with very little it could get back but still have to refund certain vendors.

      To put on the next show they are going to have to pay again. And not just rent in the building but everything that goes with it. I have a feeling that is the discussions they are having with the javitz right now and that’s the reason idea that was floated for a fall show. But, the javits has to agree to it at a price that won’t kill the association. They are in a tough space. The javitz is in a tough space.

      I’ve been going to the show for more than half of my life, nearly 30 years now. Even if it was moved it wouldn’t be the same thing. I goto el segundo, I goto vegas. It’s not the same as New York.

      If it doesn’t stay in NY it’s because covid has been a very cruel mistress to the city I call home. We have lost many institutions in the past two years that we held dear, and I am feeling like covid is not done with us yet. I am
      Holding out hope that we will someday get to convene again.

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