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 ASTRA retailer member Tammy Clower of Giggle Monkey Toys in Dahlonega, Georgia.
How did you get into the toy industry?
The toy industry found me. I am a retired kindergarten teacher and I’d heard that the local toy store was hiring for a part-time position. Perfect! I loved my 10 hour per week job. After working at Giggle Monkey Toys for 10 months, the owner called me to say they were going to close. [My husband] John and I decided to buy the store. We bought Giggle Monkey Toys in August 2014 and we are having a ball. I truly feel that this is a calling.
What do you enjoy about being in the toy business?
I love everything about the toy business! I love the fact that I can still work with children and be influential in their lives by providing quality, educational toys. I love all the friends that we have made from our customers to business associates. I love being in a fun, happy place. When people come into our store, they are happy! Most of the time they leave happy as well, except for the occasional temper tantrum from a toddler. I love being able to share my knowledge of child development and the importance of play with parents and grandparents.
What is your proudest moment as a member of the specialty toy industry?
I have had several proud moments during this two year journey. I am proud when customers rave about the store and how wonderful it is. I am proud when adults and children have fun playing in our store. I am very proud that I am a Certified Play Expert and that I was the first person to complete my certification. I think my proudest moment happened when we started hearing from people all over that they had heard about our store. We had arrived. We had made an impact.
What is your biggest challenge in this business?
Knowing what to buy, when to buy it and how much to buy. I rely heavily on my great sales reps to lead me through this process. The ASTRA Connect discussion boards, ASTRA Marketplace and education have also helped us through this process.
What is one thing most people don’t know about you?
I was a volunteer for the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta. I worked as a VIP driver and met a lot of interesting people!
How did you hear about ASTRA?
John did a lot of research when we were in the process of buying the store. He found ASTRA and was very excited about the organization. We knew that ASTRA was something we wanted and needed to be a part of since we had no idea what we were doing!
We became an ASTRA member because we felt like it was in our best interest to be part of a professional organization that is focused on small toy stores. I would encourage others to join so that they can learn more about running their business, have access to information and products that are not available to everyone, and to have access for great networking opportunities. It also provides us an opportunity to give back to the organization that was so instrumental in helping us!
The ASTRA member benefit that has helped me the most has been ASTRA’s Marketplace! The sessions are informative. Networking has been fun and another great source for information. I think the quantity and variety of booths on the showroom floor is wonderful. It’s great to be able to try out the products at the kits and game nights. Marketplace has been extremely beneficial to us and the success of our store.
Thanks for sharing your story with us, Tammy!