Canadian Toy & Hobby Fair

Outset Media booth at Canadian Toy and Hobby Fair

This past month, the Canadian Toy Association (CTA) hosted the 73rd annual Canadian Toy & Hobby Fair.  The show was held in Hall 4 of the International Centre, located very conveniently near Pearson International Airport.  While the show had relocated from downtown Toronto to the International Centre several years ago, Hall 4 was a new venue for the Canadian Toy & Hobby Fair.

As in years past, the CTA did a wonderful job organizing the event.  Many thanks to Cindy Di Carlo and her team for all their hard work.

As a non-profit association representing its members, the CTA has always done a fantastic job at making the show important and relevant for its membership, and keeping costs reasonable.  Having recently exhibited at the Nuremburg International Toy Fair for the first time, I can attest to inexpensive exhibitor costs at the Canadian Toy & Hobby Fair.

Was traffic down?  Of course!  Declining attendance at tradeshows is a worldwide trend.  As the number of independent retailers is shrinking and the costs of travel increase, and as the ease of disseminating information via the Internet becomes more widely available, it becomes easier for retailers to skip the odd tradeshow here and there!

With four people staffing our booth the first two days of the show, and two people staffing the booth on the last days, we were able to keep up with traffic.  Gone are the days when seven sales reps in our booth wasn’t enough to keep up with the traffic!

Still, we were happy with the results.  The caliber of retailers who came by was great!  Retailers got to test some of our new board games and card games, and also got a sneak-peek of some of our new Cobble Hill puzzle images.  Retailers wrote a surprising number of orders at the show this year.  And of course, as we are based way over in Victoria, we got to meet face-to-face with some retailers we rarely get to see otherwise, like Lori and Lonni from Treasure Island Toys, the winners of the NETS Retailer of the Year award.

  Treasure Island Toys in Toronto

My greatest concern and disappointment was the behaviour of the Canadian Gift & Tableware Association (CGTA).  As always, life was made difficult for attendees of the Canadian Toy & Hobby Fair.

For those of you who are not familiar with the CGTA, it is an association representing gift trade suppliers in Canada.  The CGTA runs a much larger concurrent tradeshow in the same building.  With over one million square feet of display space, the Toronto Gift Show is promoted as the “largest temporary trade gift show in North America”.  Outset Media is a member of the CGTA, and also exhibits at the Toronto Gift Show in January and in August.

I will summarize my specific problems with the way the CGTA treated attendees at the Canadian Toy & Hobby Fair in a future blog, but to summarize, if the goal of a tradeshow is to encourage retailer buyers to attend, the CGTA did a wonderfully poor job at attracting hundreds of qualified buyers who were only steps away from the entry doors to the CGTA halls.

Once again, many thanks to Cindy Di Carlo for making the 73rd annual Canadian Toy & Hobby Fair a success.

 

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