This week has inevitably been dominated by the Toymaster Show. As if by magic, the weather took a long-awaited turn for the better, although those people showing in the marquee would undoubtedly have preferred the temperature a few degrees cooler on the first day; people were staggering out red-faced and perspiring (and that was long before anyone had started drinking!).
As they entered the Majestic car park, visitors were greeted by the impressive sight of Hasbro’s monster Transformer truck (pictured below), which left no-one in any doubt about which industry was taking over the venue for the next few days.
From the moment team Toy World arrived late on the Tuesday morning, it was evident that there was already a nice buzz to proceedings. Toymaster’s ploy of offering special ‘3 for 2’ hotel deals (sometimes it’s good to appropriate ideas from the grocers!) clearly worked, and there were plenty of buyers milling around from the off.
Toymaster exemplifies the unofficial toy trade motto – “work hard, play harder.” The orders which numerous exhibitors brandished in my general direction were proof that buyers were in a positive frame of mind, and were happy to to take advantage of the deals on offer. By the evening, the fantastic camaraderie and relaxed atmosphere translated into a great opportunity to network and have a jolly good time in the process.
The first night’s event took the form of Yogi Parmar’s unofficial 50th birthday bash, and a lively affair it was too. Proceedings were enhanced by a stroke of marketing genius by Hasbro; each place setting included a small – but surprisingly powerful – Nerf gun and foam darts, and within seconds of everyone sitting down, a hail of ammunition was flying across the room. Roger Dyson stood up to speak and at once foam darts rained down on him from all sides. Maybe some enterprising toy shops will even consider taking the idea into the retail arena; what a way to attract more ‘dads and lads’ to your store (and no doubt increase sales at the same time). It was a cracking evening; even the food was really quite palatable!
Congregating in the bar afterwards, at one point I found myself standing with a group of young retail owners which made me feel quite the elder statesman. It used to be believed that owning an independent toy shop was the exclusive preserve of a more mature individual; not anymore! The group consisted of Melton Toys, Toy Town (Corby), Cuthberts, Edmund from Buxton (sorry, I can’t remember the name of your shop Edmund! I clearly partook too enthusiastically of the table wine…) and Dave from Mid Co – the elder statesman of the group at 30! How encouraging to see so many young – and very enthusiastic – people joining this fantastic trade.
It was also nice to catch up with a few of the trade’s elder statesmen; I haven’t seen Granville Simpson for quite a while, and it was great to hear how well his Rocking Horse shop in Harrogate is faring.
And to all those people who said incredibly nice things about Toy World and the blog, thank you. You have to work especially hard to establish a new business in challenging times, but the positive feedback we’re receiving makes all the effort worthwhile. I’m glad you’re enjoying it as much as we’re enjoying putting it all together. And this week I’ve even managed to fulfil one very important person’s ‘ambition’…