We make financial decisions every day.  For ASTRA retailers, sales representatives and manufacturer members, many of those decisions involve what trade shows to attend.  There is no question that attending trade shows is costly – it requires evaluating the return on investment for each show and event considered. What does this return on investment look like for each?

Retailers will determine if they learned anything new that they can take back to their business and use to increase their sales and efficiency, or if they found new products that will make their registers rack up the sales.

Sales representatives will determine if they have found new lines to sell, built a stronger relationship with their vendors and retail customers and written orders for their lines.

Manufacturers will determine if they wrote enough orders to justify their costs.

But what about the less tangible, yet perhaps even more valuable return – the human connection.  In an article in the Scientific American in October of 2013, scientist Matthew Lieberman uncovered the neuroscience of human connections and how they play a huge part in how we live our lives. We are “wired to connect.”  As Lieberman states: “We may not like the fact that we are wired such that our well-being depends on our connections with others, but the facts are the facts.”

ASTRA’s annual Marketplace & Academy has an abundance of opportunities that makes it easy to make connections with members of the specialty toy industry. I’ve heard time and time again comments like: “Going to ASTRA’s Marketplace & Academy is essential to keep me excited and remember why I went into this business” or “Missing ASTRA’s show and breakout sessions one year made me realize how vital this get together is for my psyche and my business.”

Connecting with peers in person who understand you and your business can make a world of difference. It helps you move forward and be more effective, efficient, productive and happy!  As noted in the Scientific American article: “Across many studies of mammals, from the smallest rodents all the way to us humans, the data suggests that we are profoundly shaped by our social environment and that we suffer greatly when our social bonds are threatened or severed.”

Come to Denver and join your industry colleagues to learn, play, connect and rejuvenate.  I promise, the human connection alone will be worth it!


Sue Warfield is the Director of Member Relations at ASTRA. With more than 30 years of experience in the retail and toy business, Sue offers insight into industry trends and tips and works to connect the retailers, sales representatives, manufacturers and affiliates in the specialty toy retailing arena. Contact Sue at swarfield@astratoy.org.