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.