with Emerald X Senior Sales Manager
Retailing Insight Magazine: How does NY NOW support a community of small businesses through its annual tradeshows?
Stephanie Gaspari: For nearly 100 years, NY NOW, formerly known as the New York International Gift Fair, has been the leading market for wholesale products and innovative designs in North America. Held in February and August, we provide a platform for brands and retailers, both large and small, to connect and conduct business. Whether it is a new brand, or one which is well established, NY NOW gives businesses an opportunity to get their products in front of thousands of retailers looking to discover and experience what is new, trending, and innovative.
RIM: Can you share more about how NY NOW’s recent acquisition of Bulletin will further support the industry for small businesses?
SG: The combination of Bulletin and NY NOW provides a dynamic platform that delivers year-round discovery and engagement for businesses of all sizes. It brings the element of a tradeshow to anywhere you may be and makes it easier than ever to discover exceptional products, connect with brands, and manage your wholesale business online. Bulletin is disruptive because it is one of the easiest and most affordable options for brands looking to expand their distribution and sell into retailers, like boutiques, grocery stores, apothecaries, etc. Tradeshows can be expensive for certain brands, especially smaller ones, as are showrooms or working with wholesale reps. With Bulletin, brands can activate their wholesale business in a day or two and start selling to thousands of retailers all over the US and Canada. We take a commission on every order and there’s no upfront fee to join, so the offering is more accessible for small business owners.
RIM: How do you expect NY NOW’s acquisition of Bulletin will add to the unique experience NY NOW trade shows offer?
SG: Right now, we’re hatching a pretty disruptive strategy for how to revive and revamp what a tradeshow is, how it feels, and how it functions, all while integrating Bulletin’s marketplace and digital wholesale tools to make the tradeshow experience for brands and buyers more tech-enabled and super seamless. We are rethinking attendee registration all the way through placing orders, as well as ways to help exhibitors track ROI on their show participation. So beyond enabling 365 wholesale browsing and shopping for NY NOW’s network of hundreds of thousands of buyers, we’re excited to use Bulletin to help streamline all aspects of the show for both buyers and brands.
RIM: Why was now the right time to bring PLAY USA to the NY NOW Winter Market?
SG: Currently the toy industry does not have an event in the first quarter, and we saw the opportunity to serve this community. Retailers are looking to refresh their stores with new products post-holiday, and brands are eager to showcase their lines. Toys and games have always been a successful category at NY NOW and we look forward to growing this area of the show.
RIM: What does the addition of PLAY USA mean for the overall expansion of NY NOW?
SG: NY NOW was the first tradeshow to stage at the Javits post-COVID in August of 2021. Since then, we have seen a significant increase in participation, and PLAY USA will add several new brands for retailers to source from. Our attendees are always looking for new and exciting products they haven’t seen at other shows.
RIM: How will the integration of PLAY USA impact the show?
SG: We are always working on ways to keep our attendees engaged, and it all starts with having a robust variety of brands and products to source from. Launching PLAY USA brings exactly that – more products for buyers to discover!
RIM: What can attendees and exhibitors expect from the addition of PLAY USA?
SG: PLAY USA brings a new, exciting element to NY NOW. Attendees can expect to see some amazing, creative brands including Ty Inc., Manhattan Toy, Fat Brain Toys, Tonies, The Toy Network, Thames and Kosmos and many more! Brands will have access to thousands of retailers represented from all 50 states, as well as internationally.
RIM: What has been the response thus far from potential exhibitors?
SG: We have had an overwhelmingly positive response regarding the launch from retailers, brands, and press. It has been three years since the toy industry has had a live event platform to do business, and the anticipation and excitement is growing as we inch closer to February. PLAY USA currently has more than 60 brands participating this February and we expect this number to continue to increase over the next couple of months.
RIM: Besides PLAY USA, will there be any other new activations at the 2023 Winter Market?
SG: NY NOW will be presenting a pavilion of 50+ Bulletin brands spanning all categories at the Winter market. These are all brands that sell on Bulletin’s wholesale marketplace, and many will be using Bulletin to power their presence and wholesale catalogue at the show. The goal is to reinvigorate the assortment at NY NOW and create an activation and community of brands that is compelling to a younger and more digitally native buyer. In addition, this pavilion will serve as a test for integrating more of Bulletin’s wholesale marketplace and order management technology with NY NOW’s in-person market.