“Every person passing through this life will unknowingly leave something and take something away. Most of this “something” cannot be seen or heard or numbered or scientifically detected or counted. It’s what we leave in the minds of other people and what they leave in ours. Memory.” ― Robert Fulghum, All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten
In July, I was lucky enough to be able to take a few days to go on the road to meet with members. This was our second “On the Road” show. This time, Sue Warfield, director of member relations, and I went to the west coast visiting several toy stores and talking to retailers, sales reps and manufacturers. We also participated in Portland’s famous Game Day, an adrenaline-filled day of laughing and learning.
These trips are an opportunity to meet members and experience the toy industry, first-hand. It is an opportunity to share and to listen. Most importantly, it is an opportunity to be a part of the magic that is ASTRA.
Portland is a beautiful city. It is home to national favorites, like Stumptown Coffee and Voodoo Doughnut. And despite the reputation for rain, the city’s famously great for outdoor adventures, from hiking Mount Hood to the supremely bikeable downtown. And Portland “gets it” when it come to indie retailing. I visited Oodles 4 Kids in an area of Portland called Sellwood. There we talked with Bobbi about the tactile/fidget items that are very popular.
Next stop was Mudpuddles where Kate was hosting a Where’s Waldo treasure hunt to encourage shoppers to find the elusive Waldo while visiting indie retailers throughout the area.
I also visited Piccolo Mondo Toys. Michelle has given her store a global feel with a mural of famous destinations around the world.
And lastly, I couldn’t leave the west coast without visited with the Lifetime Achievement Award winner, Mary Sisson at her beautiful store in Vancouver, WA, Kazoodles.
While there, I was also able to participate in Game Day. There were retailers there from as far away as Alaska and the event was sold out. Game Day was an opportunity to play but also an opportunity to chat. Often, we did more talking than game playing.
I heard from a manufacturer who has been with ASTRA for many years. During that time, he has sold his business to a large manufacturer. Although his new parent company was more mass market focused, he has helped them understand and appreciate the success he has found in specialty. They are discovering the power of working with ASTRA retailers. I talked to a retailer who walked me through the successful transition of store ownership from parents to child. I heard repeatedly from people the power of being a member of ASTRA and support of the community.
Every day of the trip itself, and every day since we’ve returned, I am thankful for what I was able to experience. Those conversations and experiences serve as a reminder of the important work we do.
While this was my last road trip for 2018, I think of this as a beginning not an end. I hope I can continue to visit stores in 2019 to continue to convey the support of the staff, board leadership and ASTRA membership because we continue to be mighty together.
Kimberly Mosley, CAE is the President of the American Specialty Toy Retailing Association (ASTRA). Kim has been a leader in the association industry for more than 20 years with experience in technology. She is a member of the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) and Association Forum where she served in many leadership roles including serving as chair of the Diversity Workforce Committee. In 2002, she was awarded the Diversity Executive Leadership Scholarship and in 2003, she earned distinction as a Certified Association Executive. She also lectures, blogs and writes articles on association management and technology.