ASTRA Member Spotlight: Erica Sipes, Imagination Station

CMR_CM.pngThe 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. This week, we’ll be featuring ASTRA members who have received their Certified Master Retailer designation.

What has been your biggest challenge in this business?
I have never been a big fan of shopping (so why did I agree to be a manager?!?) so having the responsibility of purchasing for the store has been a bit of a growing experience for me. I also feel it’s been a challenge to figure out how best to get our name out there. I had no idea how expensive advertising could be and I find all the social media options a bit overwhelming, especially since what’s popular seems to constantly change.

What inspired you to become a Certified Master Retailer?
I have always been the type of person that does way too much research about anything I do so when Paula and I found out about the program I didn’t hesitate. Especially considering this is my first taste of retail management, the course was a big help and confidence booster.

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How has being a Certified Master Retailer enhanced your business acumen?
I feel so much more well-versed in the retail world. From customer service, to merchandising, to money issues and marketing…I may not be an expert in any one area at this point but I understand it much more and feel better prepared to work with our great toy companies, reps, and customers.

One of the other important things I learned is the importance of connecting with your community as a small store. Doing that has been an incredible gift to me and to our store!

What is one “a-ha” moment you had while earning your Certified Master Retailer designation?
Being able to get through the courses on money and budgeting was huge for me. I’ve never been great with the terms people throw around so when I was able to pass the quizzes I was pretty amazed and excited and felt even more confident about taking on this new role.

What would you say to someone who is considering become a Certified Master Retailer?
Going through the Certified Master Retailer program is a time commitment but it was well worth it. I walked in having only part-time experience under my belt but walked away feeling excited about joining the industry. It gave me confidence and expertise that I don’t think I could have gotten anywhere else.

Thanks for sharing your story with us, Erica!

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

 

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