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 Certified Master Retailer graduate Paul Doxsee, CMR, of Gepetto’s Workshop in Stevens Point, WI.

Paul DoxseeHow did you get in to the toy industry?
Gepetto’s has been a fixture on Main Street in downtown Stevens Point for more than 35 years. The store was started by my sister-in-law, Bonnie Brown. Back in August when Bonnie’s store manager left for another position, Bonnie asked me to step in. I happened to be available as my job in the healthcare industry was recently eliminated. I had years of managerial and technical experience that Bonnie thought the store critically needed

How long have you been an ASTRA member?
It’s a perk that comes with Gepetto’s being an ASTRA member! I think I only got formally into the ASTRA database about a month ago. However, I had been working with the ASTRA technical experts on a significant revision of our store website since September.

Gepettos 1What do you enjoy about being in the toy business?
The tremendous variety of skills and experience that are used every day! As a father to 5 and grandfather to 11, the play side of store operation came pretty easily. In addition to past jobs, I run the county park nature center, so I was already pretty experienced with websites and social media useage.

What has been your biggest challenge in this business?
Getting into and through the Christmas season! Beyond that, simply assessing and acting on the implementation of technology into a store that has never had it.

What inspired you to become a Certified Master Retailer?
I saw that we needed technological assistance to improve store operations. I felt the CMR experience would give me an informed road map for implementing changes in a toy store.

Gepettos 2How has being a Certified Master Retailer enhanced your business acummen?
I already had a lot of business experience as a senior manager in the insurance and investment industry, but running those businesses with hundreds of employees was clearly different than running Gepetto’s. ASTRA and CMR have helped me adjust my past experience to the toy store environment.

What is one “a-ha” moment you had while earning your Certified Master Retailer designation?
The 4 Fs! Learning the right way to present toys on shelves to customers had IMMEDIATE impact on sales results.

What would you say to someone that is considering becoming a Certified Master Retailer?
Do it. However, get some practical toy store experience first. The lessons of CMR are more meaningful after you’ve flailed about on your own a bit.

Thanks for sharing your story with us, Paul!

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