In 1982 I changed careers and began  working as a sales representative for several toy companies as an independent contractor. This was a time when the Toy Industry was changing from a dominant male run business from the permanent showrooms on 5th Avenue to temporary spaces at the Jacob Javits. It makes me feel old when I see the Toy Building, which was the Mecca of the industry, is now condos, there seems to be more women at the shows than men, Mattel’s offices are now a Home Depot  and everything is done in temporary spaces.  The toy biz moves on…

At that time my largest line was International Playthings who was considered very progressive in the fact they hired women in their sales staff.  Working in California I did not realize this was a big deal until that first trip to New York Toy Fair. There were a few token women at market as receptionists and then there were the models…The Toy Building was actually two adjoining buildings that had a bridge walk across to connect them. That first week of the two week market,  Crayola Crayon had curvaceous women costumed in leotards and pointy hats the colors of an 8 pack of crayons each handed  out her own color stationed on the bridge. Then there was the Tonka Truck showroom that had models that looked like they were NFL cheerleaders with hard hats on that would give the buyers (men) a tour of the showroom.  There were very few women buyers, which was not the case in my stores in California but I was told by one of my buyers that she did not feel comfortable in the male dominant NY so her husband only went. Wow! have times changed. 

When I walk NY Toy Fair now there are huge blocks of booths that on corridoned off to create little showroom kingdoms. There still are the models dressed in costume but the costumes are more likely to be characters complete with a big head!  I noticed how there seemed to be as many if not more women on the sales floor as men. The funny thing  is  I took my daughter ,who is a design student in NY, with me and she was disappointed because there were “so many old men in suits” she thought it would be a wild bunch of adults that liked to play. I think there are a lot of us “crazy kids” in the toy business still but it is a business none the less … a business that is forever changing!

Advertisements