Learning Express Toys attended the 112th annual International Toy Fair in New York City over President’s Day weekend. As one of the highlights of the year for our franchise, Toy Fair provides LE Toys store owners with the opportunity to attend training sessions, search for new products, meet with vendors, and connect with one another.
This year, the four-day expo featured more than 1,000 toy vendors that showcased more than 150,000 products. The Learning Express Toys corporate buyers walked the aisles of Toy Fair along with our individual store owners and managers, meeting with vendors and searching out the next great toy trends. It was a highly successful weekend for all who attended—read about some of the event highlights below.
First Year Training
Our newest operators in their first year of store ownership came together prior to the expo for a full day of training. The informative training session was led by experts from the corporate headquarters who covered a wide variety of topics in the areas of marketing, buying, finance, point of sales, and staff management. Richard Gibson, owner of Learning Express Toys of Newton, MA, also attended the session to share his perspective and offer helpful tips based on his 23 years of experience. This First Year Training day allowed the new owners from Holmdel, NJ; Mandeville, LA; University Park, FL; Franklin, MA; Austin, TX; Lafayette, CA; and the Upper East Side, NY to share advice and bond over common experiences.
The Franchise Advisory Council held a meeting before the opening of Toy Fair to discuss an array of franchise-wide initiatives. The Council, which is made up of store owner representatives from each region of the country, elected new officials for 2015. LE Toys founder, Sharon DiMinico, and other corporate personnel conferred with the FAC members on relevant topics concerning the franchise as a whole and several nationwide partnership opportunities.
In addition to visiting vendor exhibits on the main floors of the Javits Center, LE Toys store owners and managers could also be found in the Learning Express Toys hospitality suite. The suite served as a meeting place for the 105 individual store teams in attendance as well as the corporate support staff. Several of our generous vendor partners including American Girl Publishing, The Orb Factory, and Melissa & Doug sponsored meals in the Learning Express Toys hospitality room and presented new product lines and opportunities to the franchisees.
Share the Fair
Franchisees had a chance to share some of their favorite finds from the show during a Share the Fair lunch in the Learning Express Toys hospitality suite. Each store was responsible for bringing samples of items that they found particularly promising to share with the entire group. This special lunch generated helpful discussions about the potential of these new products and ensured that no toys were overlooked. The Learning Express Toys corporate buyers took note of each item presented throughout the lunch and will be contacting vendors to discuss partnership possibilities.
Learning Express Toys Banquet
The entire Learning Express Toys team attended a motivating banquet at the Central Park Boathouse to celebrate the franchise’s success. Dressed in their finest, the franchisees and corporate staff enjoyed a delicious meal and plenty of engaging conversations. Sharon spoke to the franchisees about the keys to success in the toy industry and gave a warm welcome to all of the new store owners experiencing their first year at Toy Fair. Sharon presented awards for 2014 in the categories of Top New Store Sales, Top Sales per Square Foot, Top Percentage Increase, and Top Sales overall.
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