Having a Participatory Family Fun area in your gift store year-round may sound far-fetched, but the nearly 26,000 buyers attending the annual International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions in Orlando, FL, recently would beg to differ.
Why? Think prizes, especially oversized colorful plush figures, and what they have long meant to everyone of every age visiting an amusement park, fair or carnival or other event where you are challenged to compete for a prize.
For gift retailers constantly seeking profitable ways to create inventory that will appeal to core customers, displays among the more than 1100 booths at IAAPA Expo underscored the consumer impact quality plush, toys and challenging games have as the "prize" element in the continuing success of amusement parks and attractions for every age-group.
Several exhibitors displayed extensive, very elaborate 15-feet or more high, packed displays of plush figures, many boasting t-shirts and caps for specific college and professional teams, as well as licensed characters from comic books, cartoons and movies favorite licensed figures.
For gift retailers struggling with the perennial problem of gifts for boys and men, many of these plush items were perfect to appeal to fans of all sports, as well as NASCAR, Also included were team mascots, Star Trek and even Jason of "Friday the 13th." Many are also available in inflatable versions.
Several exhibitors indicated camouflage shirts will soon be introduced for a variety of plush toys, certain to appeal to boys and men in war games and military styles. Also shown were mini-golf and portable putting greens, the latter small enough to accommodate the tiniest backyard, deck, porch or office, as well as meant to rollup for a vacation trip or a visit to Grandma's backyard.