ASTRA Member Spotlight: Scott Friedland, Timeless Toys

What do you enjoy about being in the toy business?
The number one thing I enjoy about being in the toy business in being able to be a child sometimes. I love being able to play and remember all the amazing things about my childhood. Sometimes it is refreshing to take that break from adulthood and just let the inner kid come out. Not everyone gets a chance to do that. I love the joy that the store brings to everyone, as well. It is extremely rare to find someone coming into our store and not having a smile on their face. Adults get nostalgic and children seem to enter a magical world of wonder when they come in our store. It is such an amazing thing to see.

timeless-toys-storefrontWhat has been your proudest moment as a member of the specialty toy industry?
I haven’t been in the industry for very long, so there is not much to choose from. My proudest moment actually came during one of the worst/scariest days I have had at Timeless Toys. On the morning of Christmas Eve last year, I came to work finding out that there was a burglary at the store. The office was destroyed and the police were everywhere trying to assess the situation. It was a devastating morning for everyone. What I am proud of is the way the staff and the community reacted. The staff was shocked and overwhelmed when they showed up that day. Their reactions truly showed how much they cared for the store. It showed how dedicated they were. We took the morning to clean up and inform the neighborhood of what had happened. We told people we would try to open up in the afternoon for a few hours if the police would let us. At 1pm we were able to open. We had no cash registers and needed to write everything by hand. Customers flooded into our store and waited in a line that seemed to take forever. They were so patient with us. We had groups of customers that came in, even though they had already finished their Christmas shopping, just to buy something to show their support for us. It made me proud to be part of a community that truly cares. It truly showed the holiday spirit and the spirit of Lincoln Square. It was a day that caused a whirlwind of emotions for everyone here at the store.

What has been your biggest challenge in this business?
So far my biggest challenge has been establishing myself with vendors. Even though Timeless Toys has been open for 22 years, I find that a lot of vendors are treating me as a brand new company. Some vendors have been extremely helpful by extending us terms and keeping us at the same status as the previous owners, but a lot don’t. Most stores that are starting off are smaller than us and don’t carry as much product. I have had a large challenge at certain points during this year keeping my shelves full because we are a large store with tons of product.

What is one thing most people don’t know about you?
It is hard to think of something that people don’t know about me. I am proud of everything I do in life and show it. I would say that the one thing most people don’t know about me is that I am only 27. Most people think i’m in my 30s based on my lack of hair and life experiences I have had.

How did you hear about ASTRA?
I heard of ASTRA through the Burrows. They love ASTRA and told me about everything they do for the industry. I fell in love right away, too.

I became an ASTRA member because of everything they have done for Timeless Toys. They are the voices for the small toy industry. They are the ones to stand up for us when the “big guys” try to push us out. They provide excellent programming, continued education, buying specials, and so much more. They are the ones that stood by me and helped me start as the new Shopkeeper of Timeless Toys. They have been there every step of the way to make sure that I am successful and so is the industry.

The ASTRA member benefit I use most is the deals that manufacturers offer. It is a huge help, especially to someone new to the industry like me. Another would be the education offerings. My whole staff have taken webinars, read the pamphlets and utilized the resources to stay on top of the benefits of play.

Thanks for sharing your story with us, Scott!

Interested in being featured in a future Member Spotlight post? Apply at the volunteer opportunities featured on ASTRA Connect. 

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