Toy FairToy Fair is the largest toy trade show in the Western Hemisphere, and brings together more than 1,100 exhibitors to showcase hundreds of thousands of toys. By Laurie Chartorynsky

Taking place Feb. 17-20, 2018, Toy Fair draws more than 30,000 play professionals to the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York City. Attendees can scope out the hottest new toys and games, engage in deal-making with top buyers and sellers, gain exposure from national and international press, and also learn valuable industry insights and trends in a series of seminars and interactive workshops. Attendees can register for Toy Fair here

Toy Fair now occupies every exhibit hall at the Javits Center – and last year’s show shattered exhibit space records. Toymakers and marketers competing for a stake in the $26.5 billion U.S. toy market filled 445,000 square feet of exhibit space (the equivalent of nearly eight football fields) with toys and related play products. Retailers visiting this year’s “must attend” event will once again see every square foot filled with hundreds of thousands of new playthings coming to market in 2018.

Mattel, Melissa & Doug, Jazwares, The LEGO Group, and Wicked Cool Toys are just a few of the more than 1,100 companies showcasing products such as educational toys, STEM/STEAM activities, outdoor toys, arts & crafts, eco-friendly toys, infant and toddler products, collectibles, board games, and the latest in tech-infused playthings. Of note is the Launch Pad hall populated by eager first-time exhibitors, who will display their unique and cutting-edge toys and games for the very first time at Toy Fair.

“Toy Fair is the place to be for buyers looking for the latest toys coming to market – including what could possibly be the next hot toy or youth entertainment product,” says The Toy Association’s Executive Vice President of Global Market Events Marian Bossard. “Buyers walking the floor of the Javits Center will be privy to an array of diverse products for kids of all ages – many of which will not be seen at any other show in the world.”

On top of being a world-renowned business marketplace, Toy Fair offers ample opportunities for networking and learning. Attendees will learn about a range of industry topics such as trends in the retail community, play’s role in society, the latest toy trends, licensing tips, entrepreneurship, and U.S. and global toy safety standards. More educational tracks and speakers will be confirmed in the coming weeks; check for event details.   

Getting Ready for the Show

Retailers can get a head start on scouting product by visiting, the play community’s digital marketplace connecting global buyers with suppliers. The ever-evolving platform allows sellers to showcase product and buyers to discover new and valuable suppliers. Through year-round engagement, buyers and sellers can find new business opportunities in a safe and secure digital environment. Retailers interested in learning more about ShopToys365 can contact Scott Evans at

“Four days does not seem like nearly enough time to take in everything Toy Fair has to offer,” Bossard says. “That’s where ShopToys365 comes in, allowing buyers to do business with vendors via their digital showrooms before, during, and after the show.” Toy Fair will take place Feb. 17-20, 2018 at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York City. For up-to-the-minute information about registration, special events, educational opportunities, hotel bookings, shuttle schedules, exhibitor floor plans, and more, visit     

About the North American International Toy Fair

Toy Fair is an annual event that is produced by The Toy Association Inc. The largest toy tradeshow in the Western Hemisphere, Toy Fair takes place each February at the Jacob K. Javits Center in New York City. The show brings together more than 1,100 exhibiting manufacturers, distributors, importers, and sales agents to showcase hundreds of thousands of toys and youth entertainment products to thousands of retail outlets from 100 countries. Visit the show’s website, for more information.

About The Toy Association

Founded in 1916, The Toy Association™ Inc. is the not-for-profit trade association representing all businesses involved in creating and delivering toys and youth entertainment products for kids of all ages. The Toy Association leads the health and growth of the U.S. toy industry, which has an annual U.S. economic impact of $80.25 billion, and its 950-plus members drive the annual $26 billion U.S. domestic toy market.

The Toy Association serves as the industry’s voice on the developmental benefits of play, and promotes play’s positive impact on childhood development to consumers and media. The organization has a long history of leadership in toy safety, having helped develop the first comprehensive toy safety standard more than 40 years ago, and remains committed to working with medical experts, government, consumers, and industry on ongoing programs to ensure safe and fun play. Visit or for more information.

Laurie Chartorynsky is the communications specialist/content developer for The Toy Association.

BLE PreviewBrand Licensing Europe aims to aims to provide an engaging platform where attendees can network with the right people. By Bianca Herron

Brand Licensing Europe’s (BLE) 2017 Brands & Lifestyle seminar program will feature the Victoria & Albert Museum, Imperial War Museum and The National Gallery, Penguin Random House, The Smiley Company and Beanstalk.

Brand Licensing Europe takes place Oct. 10-12 at Olympia London in the United Kingdom. All seminar sessions are free to attend and will be available on a first come, first serve basis.

Highlights of the show include an intimate ‘In conversation with’ interview with the Victoria & Albert Museum’s Director of Business Development and Licensing, Lauren Sizeland; a presentation from football brand Juventus; a session on innovation and creativity from Angela Farrugia and Lisa Shapiro at CAA-GBG, and a brand licensing panel chaired by Richard Pink with contributors Susan Bolsover at Penguin Random House, Christine Cool at Perfetti Van Melle, Gabrielle Sims at Fat Face and Nicolas Loufrani at The Smiley Company.

CAA-GBG’s Executive Vice President and Group Managing Director Angela Farrugia will co-present her session with Lisa Shapiro, senior vice president of retail development. Farraugia notes that without innovation, fresh ideas, people or products are not possible.

“Our session at BLE will look at how to support a culture of innovation and inspiration to avoid stagnation,” Farrugia said in a release. “Creating a culture that delivers extraordinary results and keeps this amazing industry full of vitality and prepped for continued growth. Great work comes from inspired people. I hope our session will inspire the industry to keep innovating.”

This year’s program will be the “most exciting” to date, BLE Brand Director Anna Knight added. “It features an unmissable combination of complementary presentations, interviews, demonstrations and panel discussions designed to bring the world of brand licensing to life, and with sessions on food and drink, heritage, sport, fashion and corporate brands.”

The Right Connections

Exhibitors and visitors are able to request and pre-book business meetings ahead of the event this October with BLE’s Matchmaking Service, a free, easy-to-use online service launched at BLE in 2016. The service has proved successful with more than 1,200 business meetings arranged last year, and more than 13,500 online profiles created.

According to BLE, 61 percent of exhibitors met more visitors than expected. The service allows users to pre-book 1-2-1 meetings with the right partners, organize their schedule to make the most of their time at the show, and search for relevant contacts interested in partnering with their specific business category.

This year, the Matchmaking Service incorporates a host of new system enhancements, including improved search functionality. This increased accuracy will make it easier for visitors and exhibitors to request meetings with the businesses and brands of most relevance to them, Brand notes.

“Since launch, we have improved the portal’s functionality and based on the recent second outing of the service at Licensing Expo earlier this year, we’re confident that we’ll see even more meetings arranged at BLE this year,” she says. “At BLE, we continuously look for ways we can increase exhibitor ROI and improve the visitor experience, and the matchmaking service ticks both of those boxes.”

Key Engagement

The Licensing Academy program at this year’s BLE will focus on key trends affecting the future of licensing in Europe, including Brexit, gaming and toys.

“The one word that’s become synonymous with Brexit over the last year is ‘uncertainty’ and that’s just as true for the licensing industry as it is for everyone else,” says Kelvyn Gardner, managing director of LIMA U.K.

Gardner’s popular BLE session, Introduction to Licensing, will pinpoint what the potential implications of Brexit could be for licensees, licensors and retailers. “How we can all navigate our way through any challenges it throws our way, [is] dependent on the various potential outcomes at the end of the negotiation period,” he adds.

Other notable sessions on the program include John Burns at Gately’s Brand Licensing: The Seven Deadly Sins; What Role Does Subscription VOD currently play in our television viewing habits? presented by GfK’s Sam Tuck; the day one keynote panel Gaming: Dispelling The Myths; and Co-founder of Mojo Nation Billy Langworthy’s panel Playing With Brands: A Look At The Design Process Behind Toys and Games.

“Whether it’s board games that adapt an IP and reflect its style, narrative and tone via gameplay, or toys that embrace the latest tech to bring much loved characters to life in innovative ways, the world of licensed toys and games has never been as exciting as it is right now,” Langworthy says.

“The Playing with Brands panel will see designers lift the lid on how they go about creating licensed toys and games, dissecting the creative constraints and potential pitfalls involved in bringing characters and IP to life in this way,” he adds. “We will also look at how the toy industry’s relationship with licensing has evolved over the years.”

FN PlatformThis season’s FN Platform show has an exciting new lineup of celebrities, industry experts and music. By Bianca Herron

The top leaders and innovators in the footwear industry will convene at FN Platform’s MAGIC show Aug. 14-16 in Las Vegas. Held at the Las Vegas and Mandalay Bay Convention Centers, the international showcase touts itself as North America’s most influential footwear business forum featuring men, women, juniors and children’s branded footwear.

Launched in 2010 under the direction of UBM Fashion Group’s President of Footwear Leslie Gallin, MAGIC is a three-day show that has grown from 100 brand exhibitors to more than 1,600 who represent over 30 countries.    

Attendees will be able to check out top footwear brands from France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Brazil, the United Kingdom and Turkey - including new brands like Danner, Chie Mihara, Les Tropeziennes, Hotter, Reef and Castaner - across more than 200,000 square feet of exhibition space.

“It’s a vital component for success in today’s business environment to make sure you’re in the room,” UBM Fashion President of Footwear Leslie Gallin said in a release. “What this means is face-to-face conversations are forging the business deals for our changing times. Our trade event is, as I like to say, the ‘Davos Summit’ for the footwear and fashion business.

“Nowhere else in the world is there an event where key leaders and decision makers of the footwear industry convene twice yearly under one roof,” she adds.

Attendees can navigate MAGIC’s show floor seamlessly, as it offers six carefully curated lifestyle-themed lounges featuring established and merging brands in the footwear categories:

      • BLACK DIAMOND - Luxury Women’s Footwear Collections

      • COSMO - Women’s Fashion Footwear

      • CAMP - Women’s and Men’s Casual Lifestyle & Advanced Contemporary Footwear

      • BOND – Bespoke Footwear for the Modern Man

      • IN PLAY- Children’s and Junior’s Footwear

      • ZEN – The Crossroads of Footwear Style and Comfort    

“The lounges have an elevated décor providing a comfortable space to re-energize, eat, drink and meet with friends and colleagues,” Gallin says. “We are paying close attention to food selection and cocktail offerings, as well as special art installations to start conversations and stimulate new ideas.

“Expect to find foot massages, and hair and makeup touch-ups to keep everyone looking and feeling their best,” she notes. “This adds to the overall buyer experience for efficiency and fun all under one roof."

In addition, along with new highlights that will be revealed on the show floor this year, attendees can also look forward to several key events the show has become known for, including:


This season’s much-talked about Opening Night Concert boasts a performance from World Classic Rockers with original band members – Nick St. Nicholas and Michael Monarch from Steppenwolf, Aynsley Dunbar from Journey, Randall Hall from Lynyrd Skynyrd, Greg Walker from Santana, Fran Cosmo from Boston, along with David Colye, Mark Hoyt and Juan Del Castillo as back-up.  

The show’s star-studded networking events continue to be a huge draw as well with the concert featuring a networking cocktail event on the show floor Aug. 14 at the FN Cafe.


Beginning Aug. 13, the National Shoe Retailers Association (NSRA) will kick off its two-part educational program topical to the footwear industry. MAGIC will also showcase seminars from Susquehanna Financial Group - who will discuss the evolution of athletic footwear trends - the NPD Group (National Purchase Diary) as well as the California Fashion Association.

Other trend-focused seminars include FDRA, who returns with their hit live podcast “Shoe In,” from the show floor and Fashion Snoops will showcase insights on top footwear trends for Spring/Summer ’18. Additionally, last season’s trend forecaster Wendy Bendoni will brief attendees on top footwear trends for the upcoming season.


PENSOLE Academy will also host a student workshop showcasing a special onsite display featuring sneakers created by students from last season’s competition.

FN Platform’s next shows are Sole Commerce, a women’s and juniors footwear and accessory event, and FOOTWEAR@Coterie - a women’s luxury footwear event that sits within Coterie and coincides with New York Fashion Week. Both of the shows will be held Sept. 17-19 at the Jacob Javits Center in New York City. 

Alex GourlayThe expo’s Business Program focused on pro-consumer, pro-pharmacy issues and community involvement. By Bianca Herron

More than 5,000 attendees convened for The National Association of Chain Drug Stores’ (NACDS) Total Store Expo Aug. 19-22 in San Deigo. Held at the San Diego Convention Center, the expo featured more than 700 exhibitors.

With each annual show, NACDS takes extensive steps to help attendees make connections with the right individuals. Several of the highly popular features of the show returned this year, including Meet the Market, where suppliers and retailers meet for brief introductory meetings that set the stage for subsequent and more in-depth conversations.

The show’s Meet the Retailer segment allowed retail companies to brief exhibiting suppliers on strategic priorities. On Aug. 20, Total Store Expo held its Business Program where not only General Colin Powell gave the keynote, but also Alex Gourlay, co-chief operating officer of Walgreens Boots Alliance and president of Walgreens Co., spoke as chairman of NACDS.

Retailer and supplier attendees received a comprehensive briefing on ways that their NACDS engagement can shape their companies’ future, while helping to address issues affecting local communities, the nation and even the world.

“This is where we come together to do two things: to build relationships, and most importantly to help Americans … The talk of everything is change, and I’m extremely optimistic, particularly with the heart of pharmacists at the heart of our industry … We start with the customer as the focus of the future,” Gourlay said.

He noted that NACDS is committed to remaining “forward thinking and highly in tune” with shifting dynamics in the political environment in both retail and healthcare. Additionally, the NACDS is developing a plan to identify NACDS chain members’ work to develop shared value that benefits society. According to Gourlay, a survey is planned to gather this information and to describe these findings alongside similar initiatives by the supplier community.

“We are going to tell the story of chains more clearly, and we are going to echo the story of our supplier partners,” Gourlay explained. “The NACDS Board of Directors will be finalizing the details of this program and we will be announcing it soon, and I hope you will take the survey when it is available. The first step is to measure this engagement so we can tell, learn from, and continue to improve our story.”

NACDS NACDS’s upcoming Total Store Expo aims to provide an engaging platform where attendees can network with the right people. By Bianca Herron

More than 5,000 attendees will soon convene for The National Association of Chain Drug Stores’ (NACDS) Total Store Expo. Held at the San Diego Convention Center in San Diego, the show will take place Aug. 19-22 and feature more than 700 exhibitors.

With each annual show, NACDS takes extensive steps to help attendees make connections with the right individuals, says Senior Vice President of Member Programs & Services James Whitman.

“This show is a culmination of different conferences and tradeshows that were held separately,” he explains. “We brought them together in 2013 under the banner of Total Store Expo. Our goal was to bring everyone together in a venue where they could have the kinds of robust discussions that would prove beneficial not only to themselves, but to everyone who attended.”

At the Total Store Expo, Whitman notes that an attendee can meet with someone in the supply chain, advertising, sales, and retail and manufacturing, amongst other segments of the industry. “This conference is designed to foster collaboration between chains and suppliers on diverse products throughout the store, as well as collaboration across company functions and personnel,” he explains. “The event focuses on business meetings, experiencing products and services first-hand, educational programming and extensive networking.

“Highly strategic efforts are employed to equip companies with resources needed to prepare for the event and to maximize success,” Whitman adds. “That’s the advantage of the Total Store Expo.”

Innovation On Purpose

Although held in a different city each year, Whitman notes that the innovation of the Total Store Expo extends well beyond its location. “Every year the industry changes in some way,” he says. “For example, there are always new players on both the retail and manufacturing side. So every year brings new, unique companies and individuals to the show.”   

One of the most popular features of the show is Meet the Retailer, which allows retail companies to brief exhibiting suppliers on strategic priorities. “These retailers provide intelligence about how best to foster collaborative relationships,” Whitman says. “We continue to refine this segment to make it more effective for all attendees.”  

Total Store Expo’s Meet the Market program is another key highlight of the show. “At Meet the Market, suppliers and retailers meet for brief introductory meetings that set the stage for subsequent and more in-depth conversations,” Whitman explains. “Also, the Vision 2028 section of the exhibit hall will focus on companies’ offerings in the areas of alternative competition, e-commerce, promotion effectiveness and the role of assortment.”   

On Aug. 20, Total Store Expo will hold its Business Program where NACDS Chairman Alex Gourlay, co-chief operating officer of Walgreens Boots Alliance & president of Walgreens Co., will speak and General Colin Powell will keynote the event.

“Our philosophy with this program is that if you’re going to be well-rounded in both your professional and personal life, you need to be informed and aware of what’s happening in the world,” Whitman notes. “This program is a good time to update attendees on things happening in the world that could impact them in some capacity. I think Colin is a good representative that can speak to what’s timely right now.”  

Other topics that will be addressed at Total Store Expo include health information technology, pharmaceutical trends, the health and wellness consumer, supply chain collaboration and digital marketing.

No matter what an individual or company may be looking for; Total Store Expo will meet their needs, Whitman notes. “This show provides a good opportunity to recalibrate, confirm or re-confirm,” he says. “It’s also an opportunity to look for new ideas, plan ahead, be a mentor to someone else, meet with your peers, learn and explore.

“There’s a tremendous amount of engagement within these four days of the expo,” he adds. “This is also a tremendous industry with tremendous individuals who have tremendous opportunities to make a difference in people’s lives. At NACDS, we approach everything we do with the needs of our members in mind. That is why the show is reflective of what’s happening in the industry. It’s our goal to provide what they need as much as we possibly can during Total Store Expo.   

“Ultimately, this show is truly geared towards making our attendees better,” Whitman concludes. “It also gives them an opportunity to expand and explore. If you’re not coming to the show, you should. And if you are coming, take advantage of everything you possibly can.” 

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