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.
How did you get into the toy industry?
Noticing how playthings affected the way my 5 children played (both solo and as a group), I was drawn to provide them with quality, positive toys, but they were hard to find back then. When I got the opportunity to open my own business 21 years ago, a specialty toy store seemed like a good fit.
What do you enjoy about being in the toy business?
I love providing quality playthings that promote creativity, imagination, and curiosity. I love the excitement children have when they are exposed to toys that don’t dictate (think media driven) how to play with them. I love the happy nostalgia older people get when visiting my store. I love the thought that in some small way I am helping parents provide happy, healthy experiences and memories for their families.
What has been your biggest challenge in this business?
One frustration is the fact that people love coming to my store to play, look, visit…but I suspect some (too many) go home and purchase the things they enjoyed at my store on Amazon. I think educating people about the benefits of toys that they don’t see advertised on TV, as well as the necessity of supporting their local businesses is the biggest challenge.
What inspired you to become a Certified Play Expert?
I wanted some letters to put after my name! “Amy Barrett CPE” 🙂 Actually, after all these years, It did seem like a certification was a good idea.
What is one “a-ha” moment you had while earning your Certified Play Expert esignation?
That Frank Lloyd Wright’s son “invented” Lincoln Logs!
What would you say to someone who is considering become a Certified Play Expert?
The material is good and it is worth the investment of time and money.
How have you used your Certified Play Expert designation to influence the power of play in your community?
I have been asked to do a local TEDx presentation on play, though, and the CPE course certainly gave me a lot of material to use!