Reporting from the Front Line

Whether you love or don’t-really-love the Las Vegas sales meetings in December, these meetings provide ASTRA with opportunities to meet one-on-one with manufacturers and sales rep groups and come away with information to help ASTRA better serve the industry. Check out these highlights and a few “aha” moments during our meetings:

In response to the few items that have had big discounts from manufacturers direct in the last few weeks, the picture isn’t quite as cut and dried as it may seem. For example, we learned that any manufacturer that is offered a spot on a national network show to highlight a product or two must offer an incredible short-term deal on the products that are featured. That was an “aha” moment for us!

While competition with pricing online has been especially rough this holiday season, companies that show up with the craziest pricing can often also be the most asked for and reordered lines at the brick and mortar stores. Our takeaway? Exposure makes a difference and if stores give consumers a greater reason to come in than just for a product, they ultimately win the game.   Engaging staff, gift wrapping, in-store events and an overall positive environment is what cannot be achieved online.

Get ready, retailers! There are amazing new products coming in 2017 and independent retailers can be the first to act on getting them into their stores. The larger the organization, the longer the decision-making process for bringing in new items takes – so advantage goes to the indie retailers.

The offers to help ASTRA – through volunteering and using expertise that is within our own ranks – were amazing. Our takeaway? Ask for help directly. Don’t forget that many times those right in front of you can help your own organization become even stronger.  Check resources within as well as outside.

Technology and social media are vital to keeping brick and mortar stores viable and relevant. ASTRA will be working on helping our members not only get on board, but equally as important, staying ahead of the curve.

Little things – yes, there were a few small things that were asked of us to help simplify and streamline the dissemination of information and ordering processes. From those suggestions, here is a short sampling of what we will be working on immediately in 2017.

  • Price list/order from consistency amongst manufacturers.
  • Listing on our website, in one spot, of our new members and updated monthly with full contact information.
  • More tutorials – be they individual or online – to better understand and utilize our own website and ASTRA Connect.

We look forward to working with ASTRA members to strengthen and grow the industry together in 2017. Wishing you a wonderful holiday season!


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



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