Friday, November 12, 2010

So many things to keep me busy and away from this blog.

But I am making time tonight. I am making time because I enjoy writing here. Not many folks start a business and I have always felt like this blog could be a small window into the first few years of a new company.

I attended my 3rd Toy Preview Show in Dallas last month. Our booth space keeps improving (the first year we were the last booth on a deadend aisle in an overflow hall). People found us then, but it is easier when you are on the main floor like we are now.

It is a good show for a company of our size. The big toy companies (Hasbro, Jakks Pacific, Mattel to name a few), do not attend. But most of the major retailers do attend. Without the big companies dominating the retail buyers time, we find that we get quality face time with major retailers. Anytime we can tell the story of the Lafayette Puzzle Factory it helps. We are different and we have a compelling line up of puzzles and activities.

I got to thinking about all of this because of an e-mail I received this week. The father of my oldest friend sent a note. In the note he re-introduced me to a woman who grew up in our neighborhood. She has started a new business and he thought it might be interesting to reconnect.

Her business is really interesting and her web site is great. She is selling doll clothes. But not just any doll clothes. She sells used doll clothes, some of the pieces date back decades. I am not a doll collector, but I admit I loved looking through her website and seeing the way she presents the clothes and the company. The advice I was given before I started the Lafayette Puzzle Factory is to only do it if you really love it. Looking at her website, you can tell she really loves this niche fashion business.

I am not sure how many of your might need doll clothes, but I know a lot of folks who collect also assemble jigsaw puzzles, so I thought there might be some folks who would be interested in this company.

Check out the company, enjoy the dresses and keep on puzzling!



Thursday, September 23, 2010

Hopefully you are starting to find our Fall collection in stores. By mid-October, our goods will be in almost 20,000 retail outlets all over North America. And a few more in Australia, New Zealand and other countries. It is exciting. And hard to believe that this is only our second holiday season in stores. Quite a ride.

If you are having trouble finding our puzzles, take a look at our web site: On the right hand side of the home pages are links to various on-line stores where you can find LPF puzzles. Take a look.

In less than 2 weeks, I will be in Dallas, TX for the Toy Preview Show. It is a chance for retailers to get a sneak peak at our 2011 puzzle line. It is a great line and I can not wait to show it off.

But today, I want to write about a neat little restaurant I tried. It just opened and I read about it in the newspaper here in Lafayette. It is called Jarocho's. Its at 404 N. Earl. And it is a hidden gem.

The restaurant is run by a mom and son. The mom cooks all the food from scratch when you order. So do not go hungry or without some time to kill. But if you have the time for a delicious leisurely lunch, this is the place. Isabel is the chef. The menu is limited. I had Chicken Enchilladas with mole sauce. Isabel makes the mole from scratch. I am a mole expert and this mole was amazing. She also let us sample one of her famouse tamales. It too was unbelievable.

Service is slow. Isabels son is the waiter for the whole restaurant. The mom is the only cook. When you order, she makes your meal completely. It takes time. I suggest getting there early.

Why am I writing about a new restaurant? When I walked into the small dining room today, it reminded me of starting LPF. Here are two people who believe there is a hole in the market for a good mexican restaurant. To be honest, Lafayette has tons of mexican restaurants. It is hard to believe we need another one. But these two saw an opening. They would cook each meal individually. They know the ingrediants for mole and a couple of other sauces, so that is all they concentrate on. They do no have a burrito on the menu. Mexican food could be a commodity. A taco is a taco. Taco bell is cheaper. Little Mexico down the street is faster and has more selection. But the food is not as good as at Jerocho's. The attention to detail is not the same. And the prices at Jerocho's are the same or even cheaper than Little Mexico.

LPF was founded on the same principles. There are a lot of puzzle companies in the USA. A lot. Some people see puzzles as a commodity. A puzzle is a puzzle is a puzzle. Heck, I think some puzzle makers think puzzles are just a commodity. But retailers and puzzlers know differently. They know that a box full of pieces is not enough. There are lots of pretty pictures in the world. But most of them would make a terrible puzzle. At the Lafayette Puzzle Factory, we know what separates a great puzzle image from a good picture. We know the importance of using the right types of papers. The better the paper, the more enjoyable the puzzle will be. And the more times you can put it together. I love making jigsaw puzzles. I love hearing from puzzlers who put together our puzzles.

This was the same love that I felt at Jerocho's today. Isabel loves making good food. She loves watching the folks try her cooking. I saw her peaking out of the kitchen when we ate the tamales. She makes her food because she knows what it takes to make good food and she loves to watch others enjoy the food.

My team and I love to make a great puzzle. I love when I am in a store and I see someone buy a Lafayette Puzzle Factory puzzle instead of another puzzle (it happens and I am not kidding that it is the biggest thrill!!!!). I love when I get letters asking where to buy more puzzles. And I love when retailers recognize our expertise and find extra space for all our wonderful puzzles.

So go support Isabel if you are in Lafayette. And suppor the Lafayette Puzzle Factory by buying our puzzles and telling your friends all about us.


Thursday, August 12, 2010

The response to our Crayola Chalkboard Puzzle continues to be great. Attached is a link to a review from a mom with 2 kids. She included pictures of her kids putting the puzzle together and then playing with the puzzle.

I also had a chance to visit a friend of mine who has 2 boys aged 6 and 3 (maybe 4). I took one of the puzzles with me to their house. I assembled the puzzle with them. Then we all played with it. We had many spirited games of tic-tac-toe. And here is the neat part. As we played the boys decided instead of x's and o'x we should have to draw body parts (ears and elbows) or foods. The puzzle was a vehicle for them to use their creativity. To make jokes. To be silly. They loved it. It was so fun to watch. The 6 year old even told us a story about how he knew to always start in the middle box. A girl in his pre-school class kept beating him. She finally broke down and told him the great secret of tic-tac-toe strategy. His mom and dad had never heard the story. They loved that the puzzle had given him the opportunity to tell them this little fact.

I also had a chance to see why chalk is so great for kids. We left the room for a few minutes. When we came back the 6 year old was very proud. He had drawn a perfect rectangle on the wall and colored it in with the chalk. Now, I do not recommend this as it did give me and the parents a bit of a scare. But the chalk washed off with just a damp rag from the kitchen. No evidence that a little extra creativity had made it to the wall.

I tell this part of the story as an example that I have kids and I am around kids. They do things we wish they would not. So as a person who makes products for kids, I try and recognize these things. That is why I knew chalk was the perfect fit with a childrens puzzle. It would allow them to show off and explore their creative side. And it would give the parents a bit of a safety net if that creativity made it onto a wall. Or a little brother.

Check out the review:

And then, if you want to buy the puzzle, visit your local Toys R Us or go on line at Toys R Us:

In the meantime, keep on puzzlin'!


Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Very often folks send me pictures of their completed Lafayette Puzzle Factory puzzles.

I love getting these notes. I really do.

I understand the sense of accomplishment they feel once the puzzle is fully assembled. I feel it when I finish a puzzle. I love the satisfaction of putting in the last piece (thus the name of this blog).

So if you feel that same pride, do not be afraid to send me a picture of your puzzle. I love seeing it and I totally understand. I might have to start posting a few of my own finished puzzles.


Monday, July 19, 2010

We are in the process of finalizing our 2011 product line up. This will be our 3rd year. We will be introducing our 4th catalog. We have come so far from our first catalog. Our first catalog had 6 puzzle lines and was 12 pages with lots of room between products. I still love looking at that catalog. The 6 lines were the basics (50pc, 100pc, 500pc, 1000pc, panoramic puzzles and a sphere shape). There were a few artists, but mainly photographic puzzles. I love that first catalog. It was small, but it was proof we existed and were ready to be judged by folks who put together puzzles. The first catalog did not last long. We quickly introduced a second catalog 6 months later that had more artists, unique formats (Chalkboard, Fuzzle, Cling, etc), and even new packaging.

Last week, the whole LPF team was together finalizing our 2011 line. We will introduce the line in Dallas in October. It was hard not to remenisce a little as we went through the process. We laughed about previous years. We remembered who had good ideas and joked about others that never got off the ground.

It feels like we are getting ready for our junior year in high school (with a child going to be a sophomore in high school, I spend time thinking about transitions). Freshman year (our first year) we were unsure exactly what to expect from retailers and puzzlers. We were hopeful, knew that we had been well prepared, and above all hoped we would survive. As that first year went on, we grew more confident. We realized that we could play and survive against the bigger "seniors". We were accepted by folks and started to find our niche.

This last year has been our sophomore year. We were no longer green behind the ears and knew what to expect. We were more comfortable and stepped out of our comfort zone a bit more. People knew our names and actually sought us out. The seniors did not seem so scary and we realized they were just like us, only older. As sophomores we were hungry and not afraid to be a little pushy. It has paid off well.

And so now, during this summer, we prepare for our junior year. We feel comfortable. We have a few scars, but overall we are ready for the coming year and beyond. We now talk about longer range plans. We are ready to take on more responsibility and leadership. We have proven to ourselves and to others we belong.

These first years have flown by. We do not spend much time thinking about the past. My focus is on the future. I am motivated by the kind letters, e-mails and phone calls we receive. Words of thanks from families who have tried our puzzles and like them. They want to buy more. They want us to sell them in stores closer to their homes. We hear the calls and we use them as motivation to push harder.

I have said it before, starting the Lafayette Puzzle Factory is the hardest thing I have ever done. And it is the most fun thing I have ever done.

Keep checking back to the blog. I promise to be better about updates. We have some neat things coming up and I can not wait share these with you in the next few weeks and months. I might even post a few more embarassing pictures of me at different events.


Wednesday, June 23, 2010

So much has been going on since my last blog post.
The team and I have been busy shipping our Fall products to stores. New puzzles are starting to show up on shelves now. But most will not be in stores until August or so. Keep your eyes open. They are coming. In the mean time, keep visiting Toys R Us for our Crayola Floor Puzzles. We have been getting some really nice positive reviews for the product. It was a 2009 Toy of the Year winner. If you have kids, this is the puzzle for you.

We have also been visiting with retailers about adding new puzzles to their Spring 2011 puzzle departments. I do not think that folks realize how far in advance the stores plan their merchandise. So I have been out visiting retailers since mid May. Other than the travel, I really like meeting with the retail buyers face to face. I learn tons. And that in turn helps us make better puzzles (and other products!).

We are also attending a few trade shows. These are shows where we find and buy the art to put on puzzles. I was in NYC at the Surtex show and then a few weeks later in Las Vegas at the Licensing Show. Both were great and I could have used more time at both. There is so much great art out there.

Las Vegas was fun because it was 106 degrees! As soon as I got to my hotel, I put on shorts and walking shoes and took a stroll. It was like walking with someone blowing a hair dryer at your face. It was hot, but the hot wind made it just feel hot. Not humid/sticky like when it is hot in Indiana. Anyway, now I can say I have been in 106 degree heat.

All the major TV and movie studios have booths at the Las Vegas licensing show. I like getting my picture taken with the different characters. This year I took some with darth vadar and his friends. A women came up and asked if she could take the picture for me (the person I was with was not doing it right in this persons opinion). Before I knew it she had me acting out being arrested by darth and the gang. I went along with and before I knew it a crowd had gathered to watch me make a fool of myself. But I must admit, I do like the pictures. And my boys thought they were great! So I guess, this mystery person knew what she was doing. Here I share my embarassing pictures. And remind you that I was the perfect age when the original movie came out. I believe I saw it 12 times in the movie theater! What a nerd. :-)

Friday, May 14, 2010

Thank you to everyone who has helped our launch of the Crayola Chalkboard Floor puzzle at Toys R Us. It is a top seller early in its time on shelf. Keep spreading the word about his unique new twist to floor puzzles.

I received a neat note recently from one of the owners of a horse we feature in our Heavenly Horses line of puzzles. I am not sure how she found us, but she was so happy to see her prized horse featured in the line. The horse in question is the one title Forest Enchantment. The horses name is Cavu Paragon. He is a beautiful horse and the picture by Bob Langrish is stunning and one of the favorites in the office. I am so happy the owners are pleased with the puzzle.

If you are interested in buying this particular image (or others from the line) visit our web site - On the right side of the home page are links to our on-line partners. If you are a retailers with a web site that features our puzzles, let me know and I will link to your site as well.

Lots more going on behind the scenes. We are in production for our fall line and will have more about our listings later in the summer. Also, we are getting ready for our annual trip to licensing show. This is a big show and I am looking forward to seeing the new art and entertainment licenses available.

The weather is getting nicer, but I know true puzzlers still keep a puzzle out on the table to refresh their mind and soul. We are working hard to keep new images coming. Keep spreading the word about the Lafayette Puzzle Factory.


Tuesday, April 13, 2010

More Lafayette Puzzle Products are available on-line.

Our award winnng Crayola Chalkboard Floor Puzzle has been available in stores since the beginning of the year. But now Toys R Us has added it to its web site (and its stores). Free shipping and the same price as in stores. A great value and very convenient.

There are 2 other titles available too, but I do not see them on their web site yet. The other two titles are a USA Map and our original Playground image.

If you are not familiar with this puzzle, let me tell you about it. We have created a special surface coating that lets the puzzle act like a chalkboard. On the Space image at the link above, you can write or draw with chalk (which we include for free!) on all the black outer space areas. The magic is watching kids draw their own aliens and spaceships on the image. The puzzle is new and fresh every time kids put it together. The pieces are big and sturdy. The puzzle is 2ft by 3ft when assembled. And the box is really nice with a handle and zip strip opening. It makes a great gift.

Follow the link and check it out.


Thursday, April 8, 2010

Just about 1 year ago we sold and shipped our first puzzles . It was an exciting day that I will never forget. But today might be the 2nd most exciting.

Almost from the beginning, folks have sent me letters, e-mails and phone calls asking how they can buy other puzzles they see on our web site. As a new company, our distribution is always growing, but never fast enough. If I had my way, every puzzle would be available in every store across the nation. And while I spend just about every waking hour trying to make that happen, it may take me a few years to accomplish.

So the next best thing is to partner with retailers that have a good, safe and efficient web sites. I am happy to say we have found our first partner. is a neat company that carries just about every puzzle line we have. Maybe not every image, but at least a few from every catagory. I think you will find their web site easy to use and their selection of LPF puzzles to be outstanding. And the good news is, they are adding more of our puzzles to the site all the time.

Click on the link above and let me know what you think. I am eager to hear how folks find the buying experience on the web site.

And while you are there, check out some of the various calendars they carry. Here is a company I found that I like particularly:

I can not wait to hear your thoughts on the web site. And I hope to announce more on-line partners soon.


Wednesday, March 31, 2010

I have been waiting for awhile for this post. I love when we get our first order from a new retailer. It is so exciting. So much work goes into meeting and working with a retailer that when that order finally comes in and we ship out our puzzles, we really celebrate. It does not matter how big or small the order we get is. It just feels good to add to our constantly expanding distribution.

This week Toys R Us is our newest retail partner. They are carrying our Crayola Chalkboard Floor puzzle line. We have 3 titles in the series and Toys R Us is carrying all 3 (Playground Fun, Space Race, and USA Map).

The puzzles are great. Each comes with Crayola Sidewalk chalk. The chalk can be used on the puzzle and wipes off mess free like a real chalkboard. The Space Race and Playground Fun images are great for kids to use their imagination and join the fun in the picture. Kids can draw on the USA Map anything they desire. It is the perfect free form puzzle. And since kids can draw on the puzzle, the puzzle never gets boring.

Anyway, we are all really excited to have our Crayola puzzle at Toys R Us. I do not see it on their web site yet and it is not at my store here in Lafayette (due next week the manager tells me). But I have gotten reports of the puzzle on shelf in California and Illinois.

So keep your eyes open and let me know if you see it in your local store.

Everything always seems to take longer than I expect. I was hoping by now to be bragging about our new website and our new on-line puzzle stores. But, we have been slammed with new orders. Getting these orders organized and into production has taken up tons of time. Most of the orders are for our new items. We have been working on these lines for months, but the first order means that we have to make final decisions on packaging and artwork. And with over 60 new pieces of art in one of the orders, there are a lot of final decisions.

I do not think most people realize how much work goes into making a puzzle. Actually, making a puzzle is not difficult. They will tell you technically it is simple. Take a picture, put it on some cardboard and cut it into a predetermined number of pieces. But making a nice quality puzzle and then repeating that over and over it not easy. The difference between a really good image and a just ok image is subtle. We look at 10,000 or more images every year just to find the few hundred we make into puzzles. We reject some really great pictures that just are not great puzzles. And then we have to do all over again the next year.

The images on the puzzles we are putting into production right now were found a year ago. Last April I bought a lot of the images. They will not be in stores for another 6 - 8 weeks. Over 1 year from the first time we saw the image until it is in a store. And since then, I have looked at thousands of additional images.

I think one of the qualifications for picking images is that the person needs experience putting together puzzles. Only by putting together a puzzle do you realize the small things within a puzzle that are important. The importance of colors and shapes. The importance of the feel of the puzzle pieces. The importance of the label on the box that you use to help put together the pieces. These are all important. Not to mention having the right picture.

At the Lafayette Puzzle Factory we have that experience. We have put together puzzles. We have bought bad images in the past. We have used cheap materials and seen the results (not pretty). These experiences are what make our puzzles different from other companies. It is why after only being in business for a little over a year we have growing reputation as a company that knows puzzlers. And whose puzzles sell to a consumer who knows puzzles.

Anyway, all this has kept us busy and for that we are thankful. Keep an eye out. New puzzles will be in stores in the next few weeks and months. I can not wait to hear how we did.


Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Spring is finally starting to show itself. Yesterday was a day that we have needed for quite some time. The sun was out in full force. It was a day to drive around with the windows down in the car (and the heat on inside the car just a bit). The kids had their first practices outside. Baseball for my sons and soccer for my daughter. Everyone was in a good mood as the day came to an end.

Spring also means the Lafayette Puzzle Factory is making its first shipments of our new items. Seems like I have been getting a lot of feedback that folks are looking for puzzles. A lot of retailers cut back on their puzzle sections in the Spring and Summer. The industry collectively believes that puzzles are a winter activity. There is no doubt that sales are the highest in the fall and winter. But retailers that keep a fresh selection of puzzles year round tell me they see good sales even in the "off" months.

If you are a person who loves puzzles year round, do not be afraid to tell the manager in your local store that you shop for puzzles year round and find their selection less than you would like. Also, if you like our LPF puzzles, let the store know (politely, of course). Or send an e-mail to their headquarters on their website. They do listen to feedback. And feel free to tell them how much you like LPF puzzles.

Happy St. Patricks Day!


Thursday, March 11, 2010

Folks contact the Lafayette Puzzle Factory every imaginable way. E-mails, notes on our website, phone calls, and letters. It is the letters that fascinate me. They are usually formal letters on stationary. The writer uses cursive. I admit, I sometimes have a hard time reading cursive. Even though the cursive in the letters is neat and formal. I just do not read or write in cursive very much (ever).

The letters are pleasant with terrific penmanship and grammer. I always write back. Two of these folks have become pen pals. It seems they do not really have access to computers. I am not sure why, but they do not. So we write to each other. They tell me what puzzles they have bought and assembled lately. Often, they have suggestions for me on images or piece counts. They also tell me about competitors puzzles. Sometimes they complain about the prices of puzzles (usually not ours) or the poor quality (again, not ours). Frustratingly, they often are frustrated that they can not find every puzzle we make at their local puzzle store.

I assume the letter writers are older than me. I think folks in my age group (I am 42) use e-mail much more often than pen and paper. Its quicker and easier. I coached a basketball team this winter. One of the assistants was 20 years old (he is an older brother of one of the team members). E-mail seemed old fashion to him. He rarely checked his. He communicated via Facebook and texts on his phone.

I have enjoyed my new found pen pals. I do not handwrite my letters back. I type them on the computer and print them out. I use nice paper (I went and bought some just for my pen pals) and I sign my name as neatly as possible. I do not want my pen pals to think I am completely uncultured.


Sunday, March 7, 2010

This is the first week since Jan 1 that I am not scheduled to travel anywhere either by plane or car. When you are the new guys on the block you go where ever someone will listen to you pitch your product line. We had a great first year in 2009 and are looking to build on that foundation this year with more retailers in new parts of the country.

The one thing I never did in the puzzle industry was selling. I never met a buyer face to face until I started the Lafayette Puzzle Factory. I had never sat in on a puzzle presentation or taken part in any of the direct selling until my first appointment last year. I am still not sure I am doing it right or like other people do it. So I over compensate. I bring everything I can think of to every appointment. I bring in samples, spreadsheets, bound presentations, computer powerpoint presentations, movie posters, popular best selling books, samples from other countries, and glued together puzzles. We have a line of cupcake puzzles and to a few meetings I brought cupcakes with me! I had to buy a cart to haul everything I bring with me to the meetings. I feel ridiculous sometimes walking into a building with my cart of goods. I never see anyone else with carts like me.

I bring all this stuff with me. And then when the meeting starts, I barely use any of it. Although each meeting I pull out something different. Maybe one meeting feels like a powerpoint presentation would work. The next just the excel spreadsheet tells the story. The cupcakes were a hit! It all depends on the buyer and the prop I think I need to make the case for our puzzles.

I will tell you that in every meeting I use samples of our puzzles. And ultimately, they are my best prop. They clearly show why our puzzles are superior. They show the bright, clear, colorful pictures. They show the quality of the puzzle board and the box. They show the small things we do with our packaging that makes the product that much nicer for the consumer.

My samples are my most important prop. But I still bring everything. I bring them because as we are talking I think of additional information I can share. And then I know I have that information with me. Sometimes it is information about the puzzle catagory at a macro level. Other times, it is a question specific to the types of puzzles the particular retailer is carrying. I like knowing I have that information close by.

I still am not very good at selling. I have collected a few horror stories that I will share when the wounds are not so raw. But I am really good at explaining why my puzzles are better than everyone elses. And at the end of the day, I think that is all anyone cares about.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Heard from a Lafayette Puzzle Factory fan this week. He wrote a letter to let us know he had recently assembled several of our puzzles. He congratulated us on our bright colors and clear images. He found the puzzle to be challenging in an enjoyable way.

His note suggested he had done a lot of puzzles and was familiar with the various companies packaging. He listed for me the plus's and minus's of our competitors. He thought that our packaging and puzzles were comparable to the best. I was quite pleased with his opinion. I knew our customers were a smart lot.

But he had a complaint. His complaint was that he had done all the images at his local store and wanted more. I could feel his pain (and he added to my pain). We have only been distributing our puzzles since last April. Every single day we work to expand the number of stores that our carrying our puzzles. As of last year, we had puzzles in about 17,000 stores in North America. More in some international countries. But not every puzzle we make is available in these locations. And stores run out of our most popular titles.

One way to solve this issue for consumers would be to give them the ability to buy our puzzles on the internet. So we have been exploring how to accomplish this for the last several months. I think we are close to a solution. I am not ready to announce anything yet, but stay tuned. Soon most of the items on our web site will be available to anyone with a credit card and computer connection.


Friday, February 19, 2010

I spent the last week in New York City for the annual Toy Fair. This is a big fair and it has been going on every year since the early 1900's (I should probably look up when it started, but suffice it to say, its been going on for a long time). Its held at the Javitz Center.

It is always a fun show to attend. Toy companies of all sizes there. The big guys like Hasbro. And the small guys you have never heard of. Most of the booths are open and you can walk around in them looking at the new toys for this Fall. I even get a chance to walk around other puzzle companies booths. Everyone does this, but I will admit it. I am usually the guy you see trying to be invisible, yet talking to himself. Either I am cursing myself that I did not select an image they have. Or I am wondering to myself how they could pick such bad puzzle images. Thankfully it is usually the latter.

The Lafayette Puzzle Factory did not have a booth at the show. Booths are really expensive and so far we have not thought it was worth the money. We still had sales meetings at the show. We just did them at restaurants, or Starbucks or hotels. Folks are pretty flexible and understanding. It seemed like lots of other companies do the same thing.

I will give one shout out to one booth in particular. They have a new artist. He paints these amazing paintings in under 5 minutes. He was at their booth doing demonstrations. It was very interesting to watch. I am not sure the paintings themselves are very good puzzles, but the way he paints is neat and it made for an exciting booth. Not easy for a puzzle company booth.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

As the latest blizzard moves east, I guess I was not the only person putting together puzzles in the snow (not in the snow, but while it was snowing outside).

Today I heard from fans in Maryland and New Jersey. They have been cooped up for days putting together puzzles. They called to thank us for making so many affordable puzzles. I was shocked. Calling a company to give a compliment? And to get two in one day? People must be going stir crazy. But, what a thrill! I loved both calls.

Keep your eyes open for new titles in your favorite stores soon. We have been filling reorders for retailers since the first of the year. The Lafayette Puzzle Factory makes great puzzles that are affordable. So stock up. And send me pictures of your puzzles and the snow. We are thinking of adding a wall of fame to our web site for folks to post pictures of their favorite puzzles. Curious if anyone would actually send us a picture.

One more note about the blizzard. Next week is the New York City Toy Fair. This is an annual event. It seems like every couple of years New York City has a blizzard during the week. I think 2004 it was 24" of snow. 2006 18" of snow (I may have the years wrong, but I am close). I was in NY for both. It was crazy. In 2004, I walked down the middle of Park Av in front of the Trump buildint at 8pm, because I could. There was not a car in sight. I guess because the blizzard came this week, next week will be sunny and warm. I can only hope.

Stay safe. Stay inside. And work a puzzle.


Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Lots of snow here in Lafayette the last few days. They keep canceling school. The way things are going the kids will be in school until July 4th.

But as a puzzler, snow and cold are great. We have a 750pc panoramic puzzle on the dining room table right now. My wife and the kids stop by for a few minutes and put in a piece or two. Outside the window are big snow flakes and the ground is pure white. I like the way the snow looks before it gets all dirty.

The snow is heading east. I hope our fans on the east coast have already been to the store for milk and bread. And while you were there, I hope you picked up a puzzle.

Enjoy the snow. Spring will be here soon.


Friday, February 5, 2010

Received a neat letter recently from a young girl who lives in Mississippi. She had bought and assembled several of our 100pc jigsaw puzzles. She had enjoyed them and wrote us a nice letter about the experience. We get letters from kids more often than I would expect. But here is what set her letter apart. This is fun. She included a list of image suggestions for future puzzles. The list had 42 things that she would like to see on puzzles. And you know what? Her list was really good. We have a lot of her suggestions in our line already, but she had a lot more that would probably make for good puzzles. Especially in the 100pc format. And the fact that they come from a childs perspective gives the list added credibility in my eyes.

I have taken her list and taped it up on my office wall. The next time we are searching for images, I will be sure to refer to the her list.


Thursday, January 28, 2010

Crazy winter weather kept me from making several sales calls this week. Most of these appointments I have rescheduled for next week.

Air travel in the winter can be tricky. Bad weather in one part of the country can impact air travel in other parts. It also makes packing tricky.

When I started out this week, the weather in Lafayette was tolerable. 40's almost touching 50 during the day. Chilly at night, but not bad. I hate having a big heavy coat withe me when I am flying. They take up too much room and are too heavy. So, I left town with a light jacket. And a knit cap stuck in the pocket. By the time I got back the temperature was 8 degrees and windy. I froze running to my car. Boy was I glad to have my knit Purdue hat in my pocket. I may have looked dorky, but it saved my ears. Ahh, the glamour of business travel.

But I am not complaining. Neat things happen. Again, earlier this week, I was driving to see a retailer on the east coast. I was in late afternoon traffic driving along a river. Nothing special to see or do as the traffic crept along. As we came around a bend, I realzed I had seen the scenery outside the window before. As we continued the entire scene came into view and I realized I was looking at the real life scene of an image we have in our 2010 puzzle line. I was driving right where the photographer must have been standing (off the road, I hope) when he took the picture. I can not give away too much, but when we bought the image, I really liked it and could not believe it was taken where it said it was. I had been to this city before, but never seen this sight. It was an unexpected treat in the middle of a cold and slow commute.

When we update our web site in a few weeks, maybe we will have a contest to see who can guess which image I saw out my car window.


Sunday, January 24, 2010

I hate when blogs start talking about how they were too busy to write a new post. I was busy, but I also have been wanting to update the blog. Unfortunately, I was unable to. I have been in Hong Kong at the 2010 Hong Kong Toy Fair since January 4. You might remember I attended this show last year too and had problems signing in to my blog account.

I had the same problems this year. Very frustrating.

But now I am home and am able to update.

I have really enjoyed hearing from folks about their own family jigsaw puzzle racing traditions. One person wrote to tell me about at their family gathering. As you arrived at their mothers house, she broke folks up into 2 teams. She sends each team to a separate room where there is a 500pc puzzle. They compete to see which team can finish the puzzle first. I sounded like things get very cut throat.

During the HK show this last month, there were times in between appointments where my team was looking for ways to keep busy. They started racing each other using 50pc puzzles. I can not tell you how many races we had during the show. Again, the competition became very cut throat with serious bragging rights going to the winners.

I will post some pictures of our showroom later this week. I will be traveling this week, but will find time in the evenings to post more updates.

Thanks for checking in. If this is your first time visiting, go back in the archives and take a look at how far the Lafayette Puzzle Factory has come in the last year. I was rereading some of the older posts whilie in HK trying to sign in. We really have come a long way.


Sunday, January 3, 2010

Better Homes and Garden Magazine gets it.

They have declared January - National Puzzle Month.

From the magazine directly: "Looking to shake that sluggish feeling this month? Give yourself an intellectual workout and dust off a favorite jigsaw puzzle (JP's note: or go buy a new LPF puzzle like Puzzle Collector or Colorluxe). Piecing together a puzzle works both the analytical (left) and intuitive (right) sides of your brain. Puzzles also enhance the capacity for learning and memory."

Lets see if this link works:

I could not have said it better myself (except I would have mentioned LPF directly). The craftiest retailers know that January is a great month to sell puzzles. The nights are long and the days are cold (the nights are cold too). Great puzzle weather.

I am encouraging everyone to celebrate National Jigsaw Puzzle Month with as much gusto as you can mustard.

Drop me a note and tell me how your are celebrating.