ASTRA Member Spotlight: Hilary Key, The Toy Chest

The ASTRA community is made up of a vibrant group of retailers, sales representatives, manufacturers and affiliate members who all have unique stories of how they got into the toy industry. We believe these stories are worth sharing! To recognize our community, the ASTRA Blog features a regular ASTRA Member Spotlight series.  Today we feature…

Play at Work: ASTRA’s First Company-Wide Certified Play Expert® Workshop

Imagine a workplace that allows you to play every day. Would you guess that offering employees to play – really, play! – would increase productivity, staff engagement and morale? That’s exactly what would happen, according to Dr. Stuart Brown: “Not only does having a playful atmosphere attract young talent, but experts say play at work can…

ASTRA Member Spotlight: Toy Box Gifts & Wonder

The ASTRA community is made up of a vibrant group of retailers, sales representatives, manufacturers and affiliate members who all have unique stories of how they got into the toy industry. We believe these stories are worth sharing! To recognize our community, the ASTRA Blog features a regular ASTRA Member Spotlight series.  Today we feature…

Checking Your Damage and Destruction Clause

Hello to my ASTRA friends and clients! It seems so many of us are facing challenges from water and wind damage of hurricanes to smoke and fire damage of wildfires. Because of times like this, I wanted to remind everyone that a landlord-standard lease term to be careful of is the “Damage or Destruction” clause. What does…

ASTRA Member Spotlight: Maziply Toys & Collectibles

The ASTRA community is made up of a vibrant group of retailers, sales representatives, manufacturers and affiliate members who all have unique stories of how they got into the toy industry. We believe these stories are worth sharing! To recognize our community, the ASTRA Blog features a regular ASTRA Member Spotlight series.  Today we feature Maziply…

What Do Appliances and Toys Have in Common?

This may sound like the beginning of a joke, but it is far from it.  J.C. Penney, in an effort to bring customers back, added appliances into their store mix and have now added toy departments – not just for the 4th quarter – but year-round. In a recent article posted on fool.com, author Daniel…

ASTRA Member Spotlight: Tim Paczesny, Education Outdoors, Inc.

The ASTRA community is made up of a vibrant group of retailers, sales representatives, manufacturers and affiliate members who all have unique stories of how they got into the toy industry. We believe these stories are worth sharing! To recognize our community, the ASTRA Blog features a regular ASTRA Member Spotlight series.  Today we feature…

Understanding Your Business Numbers

To my fellow Retailers: Specialty toy stores might seem all the same on the surface, but when you start to analyze them by the numbers we are quite the diverse lot.  Yes, we sell much of the same products, from the same suppliers, but how we manage the product and cash flow can vary widely. …

How to Move Your Business Forward Strategically in One Day

Participating in the annual Neighborhood Toy Store Day celebration is the perfect way to show people why they should shop at your store and not on Amazon or at a big box. We as specialty toy retailers have an advantage over our competitors:  our stores are an experience. We are a destination for families who…

Learning Toys and the STEM Trend

The STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) movement is perhaps one of the most important trends in toys in decades. It tags the skills that kids will need, in theory, to stay relevant in today’s tech-centric world. From code-teaching caterpillars to colorful chemistry kits, manufacturers and retailers alike are eager to cash in on a growing…

Disruptions in the Retail World: Online Sales

Is the brick and mortar retail model dead?  A vehement NO! was the consensus of three separate round table discussions held in Minneapolis, Minnesota from May 16-18, 2017.  Sales representatives, retail store owners and manufacturer members of ASTRA met in their respective groups to discuss how online sales have affected brick and mortar retail and…

Women-Owned Businesses: Sharing the Challenges & Rewards

Women make up about 50% of the population, but when it comes to the work world, women leaders and founders of businesses are drastically under represented. Research conducted by McKinsey & Company, Scientific American and other sources showed that companies benefit from a diverse group of people and that companies with women leaders create more…