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 Kristen Joy Laidig of Toy Box Gifts & Wonder in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania.
How did you get into the toy industry?
I’ve collected since I can remember, and when my husband and I first started dating two years ago, we started our toy business with booths at a local antique mall selling vintage toys. Our goal was to open a book and toy store within two years of the booths, which has been my dream since I was 5 years old. Less than two years later, everything fell into place and our store grand opening was July 14, 2017!
How long have you been an ASTRA member?
Since late April, when my husband discovered ASTRA Marketplace through an internet search. I joined and bought tickets and secured my spot in the Certified Play Expert program the minute he sent me the link to “check it out.”
What do you enjoy about being in the toy business?
Getting to spread the love and joy of open-ended play to others… especially adults.
What has been your biggest challenge in this business?
Not knowing what the heck I’m doing in getting started… though honestly, it’s learning how to communicate with employees as a real “boss” for the first time ever. I’ve only ever worked with other entrepreneurs in my other businesses, so I’ve had to learn how to delegate in a different way and almost learn a different language in order to effectively communicate.
What inspired you to become a Certified Play Expert?
Who wouldn’t want to be one?!? But really, it was part fun, part media opportunities, part conversation piece and part getting to nerd out on brain science… which fascinates me.
What is one “a-ha” moment you had while earning your Certified Play Expert designation?
Just one… I’d say the relationship between play deprivation and depression, which leads to crime. That was pretty eye-opening.
What would you say to someone that is considering becoming a Certified Play Expert?
Do it. There is no try. 😉
How have you used your Certified Play Expert designation to influence the power of play in your community?
So far I’ve just told everyone I know and any customers that will listen that I’m a CPE… and used it to validate tips I share about play, specific toys and how they help stimulate the mind, relax, engage learning, etc. I haven’t appeared on mainstream media yet, but I’ll definitely use it there as well.
Thanks for sharing your story with us, Kristen!
Interested in being featured in a future Member Spotlight post? Apply here.