WTHRA Hall of Fame inductees to be honored at ToyFest 2023
The ToyFest Gala 2023 will see the induction of three members of the Western Toy and Hobby Representatives Association (WTHRA) Hall of Fame: Lorraine Bozeman, Carol Knight and Mark Parsons. The gala takes place at Resorts World’s nightclub, Zouk, Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2023, at 7 p.m.
Additionally, a Retailer of the Year award will be given to a small West Coast-based toy store chain, Piccolo Mondo, located in Oregon.
WTHRA Hall of Fame inductees
Lorraine Bozeman is a familiar face in the toy industry, particularly in the ToyFest community, of which she had been an active member for many years. She spent 10 years on its board in addition to having a destination booth at the show for 35 years.
Bozeman’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 manufacturers who needed a rep, and thus Lorraine Bozeman & Associates was born. For 35 years, She curated a list of specialty manufacturers, offering her customers a variety of children’s products. In 2021, she sold her company to California rep group Golden Sales.
Carol Knight opened The Toy Store, a 700-square-foot storefront, 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.
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, Knight remained supportive to the specialty toy industry, loved working with reps and attended 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 Knight is now enjoying time to travel around the world. Her retirement was celebrated by many, 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.
Retailer of the Year award
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, Oregon. Piccolo Mondo Toys means “small world” in Italian.
According to WTHRA, 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 1,300-square-foot store into three store locations with a dedicated e-commerce site.
She credits her relationships with ToyFest, ASTRA, The Good Toy Group and her reps and manufacturers for helping the growth and success of Piccolo Mondo.