2023 will see the induction of three members of the WTHRA Hall of Fame including Lorraine Bozeman, Carol Knight and Mark Parsons. A Retailer of the Year award will be given to a small west coast based toy store chain, Piccolo Mondo located in Oregon. The ToyFest Gala will take place at Resorts World’s nightclub Zouk, Tuesday, Feb 28, 2023, at 7:00 PM. While ToyFest has evolved from a local toy show for specialty retailers, based in Pomona, CA to a national show, utilizing both permanent showrooms and temporary booths at the World Market Center Las Vegas, the basics have remained the same. The core value, toy industry community, camaraderie and celebration are at its pinnacle during the ToyFest Gala at which awards are given to respected industry leaders.
Lorraine Bozeman is a familiar face in the toy industry, and particularly in the ToyFest community of which she had been an active member for many years including 10-years on the board, contributing valuable insights and ideas to the shaping of ToyFest. This is of course, in addition to having a destination booth at the show for 35 years. Lorraine’s foray into the industry might seem like she followed in her father’s footstep as he was also a sales rep within the industry. However, she received a master’s degree in Special Education at George Washington University and taught for several years in Northern California before deciding to go into “the family business”. She worked as a sub-rep for a few years in the Los Angeles area where she developed strong relationships with several of her customers. It was those customers who helped her launch her own business when her boss decided to downsize and give up her territory. Those store owners introduced Lorraine to a handful of manufacturers who needed a rep and thus Lorraine Bozeman and Associates was born. For 35 years, Lorraine curated a list of high-quality specialty manufacturers, offering her customers a variety of beautiful children’s products. In 2021 she sold her company to California rep group, Golden Sales and has been enjoying her well-earned retirement.
Carol Knight opened The Toy Store, a 700 square foot store front, with Nancy Quarton-Harakay in Sun Valley, Idaho in November 1978. She remained at that location for 15 years before moving to a larger store in Ketchum. While the store was popular for the carefully curated selection of specialty toys, Carol was adored for her constant and consistent support for the community throughout the years. From sponsoring local sports teams and cheerleading squads to organizing an annual Doll Buggy Parade, community involvement was always part of the store’s mission. During these years, Carol remained supportive to the specialty toy industry, loved working with reps and remained loyal by attending ToyFest, which she called Toy Camp. The Toy Store was awarded Retailer of the Year by WTHRA in 2009. In January 2022, The Toy Store was sold to a mother / daughter team and Carol is now enjoying time to travel around the world! Her retirement was celebrated by all including the Ketchum Mayor who award her a key to the city at her “adventure awaits” party in April.
Mark Parsons has held a variety of positions on both the retail and manufacturing side the toy industry since graduating from college. His various stints include buying for the nearly 200 store chain Child World in the 1980s, working for both Tonka and Matchbox as territory managers for several years, and finally landing at Winning Moves in 2006. He is passionate about his business and his relationships selling games into specialty toy accounts.
The 2023 Retailer of the Year award will be given to Piccolo Mondo Toys. In 2006 owner, Michelle Smith opened her first Piccolo Mondo Toys store in Portland, OR. Piccolo Mondo Toys means “small world” in Italian. Owner Michelle Smith has created a magical multicultural toy and book experience, featuring different countries and products monthly. Using her motto “work with & surround yourself with the people who make you a better version of you” she has been able to grow what started as a small 1300+ sq. foot store into three store locations with a dedicated eCommerce site. She credits her relationships with ToyFest, ASTRA, The Good Toy Group, and of course her reps and manufacturers for helping the growth and success of Piccolo Mondo.
To read about the many other outstanding Hall of Fame Honorees, please visit ToyFest’s website:
Attendees and exhibitors with a badge are free to attend the ToyFest Gala. All others may purchase a $50 ticket at show registration ahead of time or be charged at the door. Attendee Registration is currently open for Buyers, Buyer Guests, Media, and R&D. All others are considered exhibitors. Exhibitor Registration will open through January. More details about the show will be made available as plans are finalized including the Seminar Speaker, Game Night and Morning Masterpieces vendors, and Show Sponsors.
At this time, the WTHRA Directors and ToyFest Officers encourage retailers to register for ToyFest 2023.
Location: The Expo at World Market Center Resorts World Hotel
Dates and times for ToyFest 2023 are:
Monday, February 27, 9:00 am – 6:00 pm – Showrooms Only
Tuesday, February 28, 9:00 am – 6:00 pm – Expo & Showrooms
Wednesday, March 1, 9:00 am – 6:00 pm `– Expo & Showrooms
Thursday, March 2, 9:00 am – 6:00 pm – Expo & Showrooms
Friday, March 3, 9:00 am – 12:00 pm – Expo & Showrooms
ToyFest is hosted by the Western Toy & Hobby Representatives Association (WTHRA).