During ASTRA’s Marketplace & Academy in Denver I had the opportunity to facilitate a meeting of ASTRA member sales rep principals. They discussed many of the issues facing them as they work to not just survive, but thrive. As I listened, the following points brought the most discussion and reflect what is a common thread for all of our independent members in one form or another, whether they are retailers, manufacturers or sales reps.

In order to succeed, we must all understand that we are working towards the same goals and leverage these common goals for the benefit of all in the industry. How to do that is the big question.

  • How can we find the right method of communication that works and isn’t just another email, newsletter or Facebook post that gets lost in the noise?
  • How can we create value – whether it be sales reps to manufacturers or sales reps to retailers?
  • How do we navigate through the online sales conundrum of Amazon, FBA’s and all the other online competition?
  • How do we find, train and keep new reps to cover our territories as costs go up and commissions remain static?

Independent sales reps play a vital part in keeping our neighborhood toy stores up-to-date on what is new, what is trending and what their manufacturers can offer in the way of specials and store demos. Sales reps are also the “one-stop shop” for issues retailers may have with the manufacturers they represent as well as a source for staff training on their product lines.

The ASTRA community includes an amazing roster of independent rep groups that cover various territories and care deeply about the specialty toy industry.  I was proud to hear their comments, passion for our industry and their true concern for our independent retailers.  They face the same issues all our members face and are working to find the best solutions for the common good.  On the record, I want to thank all the ASTRA member sales representatives – your efforts are greatly appreciated.


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.