New York Toy Fair Review

This was our 15th consecutive year exhibiting at NY Toy Fair!

Time has gone by so fast - it sure doesn’t seem like 15 years ago that we wheeled our portable booth into the Javits Center.  I can remember feeling excited of course, but also a little nervous too!  We had already been selling into the Canadian market for five years, and this was the start of our expansion into the United States.

Back in 2002, there were only three Outset employees who made the trip to New York.  We had a small 10’ by 20’ booth.  We only had about 8 games and no puzzles.  And like most newcomers, we were on the lower level (for readers who have never attended NY Toy Fair, the tradeshow is spread over two levels in the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center). 

Over the years, our booth grew in size.  Our product line expanded.  And we needed more people to staff our booth.  But we always stayed on the lower level. 

This year, for the first time in 15 years, we moved to the upper level.  Our booth is now 20’ by 40’ in size.  We have over 500 board games, card games, and puzzles.  And we had our largest contingent of Outset employees - there were 10 of us who made the trip this year - and we needed everyone.  There were even a few times when everyone was busy with customers!

There is no doubt that traffic in our booth was up.  And anecdotally, it seemed like the aisles were busier than normal.  But of course, this was our first year on the upper level, so it is hard to compare traffic patterns versus last year.  But this jives with the numbers published by the Toy Industry Association (TIA).  They reported a 16% increase in attendance.

In the weeks leading up to the NY Toy Fair, some Canadian retailers who normally make the trip let us know they were skipping the show this year (mostly because of the weak Canadian dollar).  This made me concerned that the Canadian traffic would be down.  But it wasn’t!  There were lots of Canadian retailers in attendance (including a handful of retailers who told us they weren’t coming, but apparently had a last minute change of heart).

And the big unknown of course is always the weather!  Although the first day was frighteningly cold (Valentine’s Day) and the last day had torrential amounts of rain, the weather was certainly acceptable considering what February can be like in New York.  There certainly weren’t travel issues like in some past years.

Hope to see you in New York in 2017!

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