Welcoming 138 first-time toy manufacturer exhibitors to its annual Marketplace & Academy in Philadelphia June 25-28 is the American Specialty Toy Retailing Association (ASTRA). The exhibit hall—ASTRA’s largest ever—is sold out and is expected to welcome more than 500 total exhibitors. More than 1,000 retailers are expected to attend. Many companies will be showing products that are not available yet anywhere, which gives specialty retailers the opportunity to be the first to offer them in their communities.
On-Site Neighborhood oy Store Day Experience
This year’s event themed Mighty Together, includes a live, hands-on, experiential toy store—complete with product demonstrations, enthusiastic staff, and giveaways—on the exhibit hall floor. Called the Neighborhood Toy Store Day Experience, it will offer tools to help retailers make November 11, 2017, their best Neighborhood Toy Store Day yet. Retailers will find complimentary planning resources, hot products, and special offers from specialty-focused manufacturers—all designed to kickstart fourth quarter and holiday season sales.
“Seventy-two percent of retailers who participated in the 2016 Neighborhood Toy Store Day promotion reported that they saw an increase in sales,” reports Kimberly Mosley, ASTRA president. The NTSD Experience is proudly supported by Ann Williams, Blue Orange Games, Crazy Aaron’s Puttyworld, Green Toys, HABA USA, – MindWare Wholesale, Neat-Oh! International, LLC, Orb Toys and Thames & Kosmos.
Educational Sessions, Keynote Speaker Jamie Clarke
In addition to 35 hours of educational opportunities, the event will feature Jamie Clarke, Mount Everest adventurer, successful retail entrepreneur, and best selling author, as the keynote speaker. He will speak from 8:30-10 a.m. on June 28. Following his keynote, attendees will have, for the first time, a third day on the exhibit floor to find new products that will differentiate their stores from others.
Clarke created two successful outdoor retail companies, one of which has been named one of Canada’s fastest-growing businesses. He brings a first-hand understanding of the many challenges faced by a specialty retailer—including hiring, sourcing products, and attracting customers.
Clarke will open the third day of the Marketplace exhibit hall with a rousing keynote titled “Above All Else: The Power of Passion.” He draws inspiration from his life as a self-styled “adventrepreneur” who points out that in elite mountain climbing, lives are at stake, but climbers have maps, high tech weather predictions, and experienced guides. In the world of entrepreneurial business, says Clarke, livelihoods are at stake, but businesses often have far less clear indicators to support their decisions. He will share his insights on perseverance, leadership, and teambuilding, all earned at the top of the world and through his own entrepreneurial business success.
Scholarships for Retailers
Several toy manufacturers have contributed to a scholarship fund to help ASTRA retailers facing financial hardship attend ASTRA’s 2017 Marketplace & Academy.
“Manufacturers recognize that sometimes the airfare, hotel, and other costs of attending ASTRA’s Marketplace & Academy don’t fit in the budget of retailers experiencing business challenges thanks to factors beyond their control,” reports Kimberly Mosley, ASTRA president. “Often these same retailers would benefit significantly from the support and insights to be found at Marketplace & Academy. In the spirit of ASTRA’s “Mighty Together!” theme, manufacturers are generously stepping forward to give locally-owned toy retailers full access to this important resource.”
Contributors of $1,000 or more to the scholarship fund will be featured in the September issue of the ASTRA Toy Times magazine. Supporters will also receive recognition at the annual business meeting and in the ASTRA Digest. Retailers interested in applying for a scholarship should contact Sue Warfield, member relations director at firstname.lastname@example.org or 312-222-0984.
Showcase of Business Services
An Industry Service Pavilion will be available for attendees on the exhibit floor, offering one-stop, easy-access to an overview, in the exhibit hall, of essential business services available in many cases at a discount ASTRA has negotiated. Services range from technology solutions to freight to insurance, and from retail consulting to retail software to e-commerce websites. ASTRA affiliate partners participating in the Industry Service Pavilion may provide show-only specials and additional resources to ASTRA attendees who visit the Pavilion.
Founded in 1992, the American Specialty Toy Retailing Association (ASTRA) is an international not-for-profit trade organization that develops and supports a membership of independent retailers, manufacturers, and sales representatives in the toy industry. Inspired to change the world through the power of play, ASTRA is a community of dedicated professionals committed to providing children with healthy, quality play materials that have a high play value and are designed with a focus on what the child can do, rather than what the toy can do. For more information call 312/ 222-0984 or visit www.astramarketplace.org.