For the last 19 years visitors to the annual Power Show Ohio walk past the Ohio Building where a sign with an arrow announces "Toy Show." The show is officially called the "Ohio Expo Farm Toy and NASCR Collectibles Show." It is run by John Metzger, a former owner of the Metzger Brothers Implement in Ft. Jennings.
"I closed the dealership in 200 and moved to Florida I haven't regretted it for a moment," says Metzger, who sells real estate now. However, his children still live in the Buckeye state and he enjoys returning here every January for five days to run the toy show.
Metzger says the farm implement business was tough. With three dealers selling the same products in the same area competition was stiff. "Farmers like to shop," he says. "So by the time you made the sale you were lucky to get 3%."
One of the exhibitors who has been at the toy show for all 19 years is Jeff Moore, owner of Moore's Farm Toys in Dresden. Moore was also in the farm implement business until 2000. His dad started Moore's Equipment in 1955 with Allis- Chalmers and then added Massey Fergusson to the lineup. Later they branched off into short line equipment. While Jeff still sells some Kawasaki Mules, the company now focuses on farm toy detailing.
"We make parts and details for Ertl (Toys) and other companies to make their tractors and combines look more authentic," he says. The company also molds some header wagons, plows, V-rippers and other implements that other manufacturers may not make.
There was a time when Moore attended as many as 40 farm shows a year to promote his products, but now he goes to only six. "The Internet has kept us busy with orders for our custom toys. It was really worth the investment."
Metzger says attendance at the show this year was down 1,400. He suspects the $10 price tag on parking may have had an effect. Moore says he's not discouraged. "Toy shows are all down a little with the economy. But we had great attendance at Farm Science Review last fall and at the St. Louis show after that."
Neither man regrets miniaturizing their farm equipment business. "We'll be back strong next year," Metzger assures.