It was a cold snowy day on February 14, 2006 when we left Woodstock in the late afternoon headed for Manhattan and FAO Schwarz where the first W Club event was to be held. We actually made very good time into the city and had plenty of time to eat and traipse around on Fifth Avenue. By the time we headed over to the store, the line outside was already around the block. Flurries were in the frosty air but so were the sounds of expectant W Club members. We stayed warm by huddling together, yakking and laughing. When the uniformed doormen finally allowed us entry, the going was slow as all our entry cards were checked against a guest list. But we were finally inside.
I had not been in FAO in a million years, certainly not since it was renovated. I liked it better before the renovation but it was still amazing with masses of huge stuffed animals alongside the escalator accompanying us as we ascended to the next level. It was a mob scene up there; the noise level was astonishing. I greeted many people I had met in Canada four months earlier. My poor husband was surrounded by wide-eyed collectors everywhere; nevertheless, he survived to attend many more events after that one.
An Isha gift set called Final Cut Cannes was the event doll. It was in a free standing showcase and rather difficult to see and photograph. I don't think we got to take them home that night. Many procedures were changed as the event went forward and that is a good thing because that night we had to stand on lines to buy the doll and it took forever. All the Integrity staff was there and although the event lasted only two hours officially, it felt like much more. Did I forget to mention that what did accompany us home was the de rigueur New York blizzard?
Meeting other collectors changes the entire landscape of the game. Even if one is in contact regularly on-line with other collectors, face to face encounters are so very different. I was saddened to learn that there will not be a February event this year other than a virtual meeting. For some people, the New York event was the only one they ever attended or could afford to attend. It is definitely a loss. From a business point of view, it's the right move for Integrity as it saves a huge amount of money. In that respect, I don't blame them for cutting out the event. The members of the W Club are a built-in market at this point. No further promotion is necessary. I don't know if Integrity ever did participate in the actual Toy Fair event anyway.
That being said, promotion may not be necessary but quality is. I'm in a quandry. One of the upgrade dolls is an AvantGuard called Freeze Frame. I love her look but they are so difficult to pose standing up and are so, the best word I can think of is wiggly, that I don't know if I want another one. But she is very cute - especially the wig and I want that wig. The dress, meh. The boots are cute. What will I do with the stuff in the middle? When will we get an AG in a gown? I plan to cut that wig Lady GaGa length and get some big sparkly sunglasses. I want a Lady GaGa doll!!!!
The other optional or upgrade doll is "Spring Forward" Eugenia Perrin. There is nothing about this doll I like except the blouse and shoes. I find her to look very much like the original Natalia. See the inset of Natalia "Behind Velvet Ropes." Eugenia appears way too stern-bordering on severe and that doesn't go along with the bright, happy colors used on her.
The price for Eugenia is $75 above the membership.
There is also an option to purchase both upgrade dolls. The total for that with the base membership comes to $285.
The prices are quite fair in light of what we've been paying for AG and FR. Both dolls are scheduled for a May delivery.
Many Integrity dealers are offering W Club members a one-time free shipping per member for the coming year until December 1, 2010. And....members will be offered the opportunity to purchase two other Fashion Royalty Club dolls and one AvantGuard doll in addition to the upgrade dolls. That's what I mean about a built-in market. We sign up; we buy.
Payment must be made by January 22, 2010.
Since there is no contest this year to award the person who signs up the most new members, you can tell them my poodle, Rudy, sent you.