President’s Letter – March 6, 2012: TIA: A Big Tent

TIA has begun to seriously transform itself as a result of the Bylaw amendments last year allowing retailers, licensors, reps and inventors to be full voting members of the association.  With the addition of Julia Fitzgerald to our Board of Directors representing Sears/K-mart and Jeffrey Kennis representing Enchanted Moments (a sales rep organization), a broader scope of toy industry interests will be heard at Board meetings, and our decisions and initiatives will begin to reflect those perspectives.

We already have four big new retail members, and are optimistic about gaining more.  We think the need for major toy retailers to stay current with important developments affecting their business is a huge reason for them to join TIA, and the new relationships and unexpected opportunities that emerge from networking within TIA can help a company survive in the tough retail environment. 

Sales reps are hugely important in the toy business, and Jeffrey Kennis has already reached out to have personal conversations with the TIA sales rep members whom he represents.  Jeffrey has made a very successful business out of repping small vendors to independent retailers, and it will be a tremendous addition to our Board discussions to have the rep perspective represented. 

 We on the staff will have to “learn some new dance steps” to be sure we are hearing these new perspectives and providing membership value to these different types of companies.  But in my experience, trade associations that represent the widest scope of interests in an industry are more robust and successful in accomplishing good ends for their members.

Without any question, the conversation around the Board table will change.  Retail, rep and manufacturer interests do not always coincide, and it will be trickier to navigate the differences and craft consensus positions on issues.  But also without question, the resulting policy initiatives will have a broader base of support and more gravitas and momentum with which to confront ambitious legislators or regulators. 

If you are a retailer or rep or licensor or inventor, we offer a warm invitation to come into our big tent. 

Warm regards to all,

Carter Keithley