By sharing ideas and pooling business resources, independent retailers, manufacturers, and sales representatives who sell toys can help each other thrive in the marketplace, according to Kimberly Mosley, president of the American Specialty Toy Retailing Association (ASTRA).
This is a fundamental principle that has guided the American Specialty Toy Retailing Association (ASTRA) since its founding more than 25 years ago. The vision behind ASTRA’s founding was “we are mighty together.”
Many ASTRA members extend thee same helpfulnews they offer their customers to their fellow store owners. The ways that ASTRA retailers share “what works” ranges from the online ASTRA Connects community to a quick phone conversation to ask for advice. ASTRA members can also learn and network at the organization’s annual Marketplace & Academy—this year to be held June 10-13 in New Orleans.
With 500+ exhibitors, over 30 hours of education, and more than 1,300 retailers in attendance, ASTRA’s Marketplace & Academy is a one-stop place to find the year’s best toys, on-target business strategies, and the top toy retailers in the business—the ones a retailer should make an extra effort to meet.
ASTRA can help retailers grow their toy sales through business education, networking, product sourcing and discounts, and customer contact.
At the ASTRA Marketplace & Academy retailers can learn from the best—quickly and conveniently. In addition, industry experts offer insights on new product adoption and marketing trends in the industry.
Retailers can bolster their business know-how, from marketing to personnel training to merchandising, when they become an ASTRA Certified Master Retailer. A retailer can become a community’s play authority with ASTRA’s Certified Play Expert program.
Available on demand sessions taught by industry experts cover topics to help a retailer run their business profitably. Retailers can build business know-how and stay informed with the weekly ASTRA Digest, the quarterly ASTRA Toy Times Magazine, and special ASTRA publications.
ASTRA Connect, a business sounding board, can be used to reach a robust online community of specialty toy retailers who share ideas and information. And toy retailers can catch up with old friends and new industry contacts at the annual Marketplace & Academy, at ASTRA Meet, Visit, and Play events around the country, and at ASTRA’s pavilion at Toy Fair events.
The ASTRA Member Directory allows members to find manufacturers, sales reps, and affiliates using the organization’s online membership directory.
Product Sourcing and Discounts
ASTRA Connect also allows members to contact fellow retailers online and locate items not presently on hand for a customer request. In addition, ASTRA Toy Times Magazine allows retailers to keep up with new manufacturers and special deals in the quarterly publication.
At Toy Fair, ASTRA members can participate in Share the Fair to spot the stand-out, don’t-miss products they may not locate themselves.
Year ‘round, ASTRA members can take advantage of specials, product support for in-store events, and staff training from the organization’s manufacturing members. In addition, ASTRA provides business service discounts by negotiating for savings from vendors offering member discounts on shipping, payment processing, email marketing, retail consulting, and more.
Among the organization’s many services for retail members is a 24/7 online store finder, a user-friendly store map on www.astratoy.org for every parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle, or child care giver when they look for quality toys.
Use of the ASTRA logo on retailers’ doors and website reminds parents that the retailer is part of the nation’s best independent toy seller network.
Another service that works for member retailers and consumers is the Best Toys for Kids Awards, a list of top toys chosen by ASTRA retailers and viewed by millions nationwide. Free marketing materials are also available.
ASTRA’s annual consumer outreach program—Neighborhood Toy Store Day—starts the holiday season by promoting local shopping and participating independent toy stores.
Those independent toy retailers selling the best toys in the business were mighty together back then, and are even more mighty together today in light of the many changes in the retail world.
For information visit www.astratoy.org.
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’s dedicated professionals are committed to providing healthy, quality play materials that have a high play value and focus on what a child can do, rather than what the toy can do. For more information call 312/ 222-0984 or visit www.astramarketplace.org.