Exclusive: Learning Express Miami conference

Published on: 2nd August 2022

Toymaster’s Paul Reader and Midco Toys’ Dave Middleton take a trip to the Learning Express conference to check out indie retail there.

Following a visit to Toymaster’s annual May show from Mike Derse, director of Business Development at the American toy store franchise Learning Express, Paul and Dave were invited to attend Learning Express’ June 2022 conference. Here, Paul reports back on his time at the event and what he has learned from the experience.

“Mike Derse’s visit to our Toymaster May Show was so successful that the natural next step was for Toymaster to check out the LE conference in June – and the fact it was held in Miami only increased my enthusiasm for the trip,” Paul writes.

Providing a detailed description of the conference and surrounding events, Paul said he was struck the positivity and energy that came from the LE team, as well as the store owners and the suppliers.

“The enthusiasm and drive that we saw at the LE show has inspired both Dave and I to push on a little harder in our respective endeavours,” he said. “Our trip has left us in absolutely no doubt that there is and will be a future for independent toy retail – no one is better equipped with the tools to explore, react and adapt than independents.”

Now back in the UK, Paul and the Toymaster team plan to remain in contact with their new American friends via catch-up meetings and Zoom calls. “Both Toymaster and Learning Express plan to keep attending each other’s shows,” added Paul. “We’ll potentially also use the US Astra speciality conference to come together and take a more serious look at product opportunities and seek out new suppliers.”

Paul was quick to reassure readers that he and Dave hadn’t merely been on a jolly for some fun in the sun, saying the duo kept very busy throughout the short trip. “Any grand ideas about relaxing by the pool or on the beach were extinguished very quicky once we realised how many trips to Learning Express stores, other toy stores, Target, Walmart and shopping malls we’d be going on, looking out for US retail trends that might find themselves this side of the pond in the near future,” he explained. “I came back both enthusiastic and exhausted. Thanks for having us, Learning Express. It was a blast and we can’t wait to do it all again.”

To read Paul’s full report, which appeared in the August edition of Toy World, click here.


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