Sam Kotzer, Canadian Toy Hall of Fame Inductee, Dies at 88

March 11, 2013 | The Toy Industry Association (TIA) and its members join in mourning the passing of Sam “Big Sam” Kotzer, Canadian Toy Hall of Fame inductee and founder of Samko Toy Warehouse, who  died on March 3rd at the age of 88.

According to the Canadian Toy Association, Mr. Kotzer was born in 1925 in Toronto and began his career in the toy business at age 16 while working with his father and brother on wholesaling toys. Before long, he started importing toys from Japan, and went on to become one of the country’s major suppliers of inexpensive toys.

In the 1950s, Mr. Kotzer helped to make the annual “88-cent Sale day” possible at large department stores during the Christmas season and in 1961, he created his own end-of-line supply company – Samko Toy Warehouse – which he successful ran with his family for more than 50 years.

Mr. Kotzer’s knack for marketing became a legend, thanks to his success in creating new markets for toys perceived as no longer saleable, and the Canadian toy industry noted his success in 1997 by inducting him into the Toy Hall of Fame.

During his ‘off’ hours, Mr. Kotzer supported several worthy philanthropic causes, donating to many schools and organizations and holding toy drives in support of Toronto police and firemen.  He was also a key supporter of Toronto’s Santa Claus Parade and was recognized as saving the event in the late 1980s through his extraordinary fundraising efforts. For decades, he volunteered at the YMHA helping others to stay healthy.

Mr. Kotzer is survived by his wife Betty; children Michael and Wendy, Howie and Phyllis, Sheryl and Paul, Eric and Terry; grandchildren; and siblings.