ASTRA Member Spotlight: Amy Barrett, Lasso the Moon Toys

play_expertThe 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. 

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Congratulations, Graduates!

Congratulations, Graduates!

Congratulations to the class of 2017! Commencement season is upon us and ASTRA is ready to celebrate the hard work of our Certified Play Expert (CPE) and Certified Master Retailer (CMR) graduates. We are gearing up to recognize the achievements of our members awarding 60 certificates to those who have completed the CPE & CMR programs on Monday, June 26 at the Marketplace & Academy Annual Business Meeting. We are thrilled to celebrate their achievement!

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ASTRA Member Spotlight: Nicole Jakob, Part Time Renegade

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 Nicole Jakob of Part Time Renegade in Winnetka, IL.

Part Time RenegadeHow did you get into the toy industry?
I invented a line of craft and activity kits that teach kids to be kind when no one is looking a few years ago and spent three years developing them and manufacturing them. Once I started shipping Renegade Made Kits, I was officially a freshly-minted toy maven! In the process of developing these, I went to a local toy store, The Children’s Gift Shop in Northfield, IL, and asked the owner and employees about what they would need for packaging, and what their concerns for a product were. They were so excited about my product and so helpful in the process, and suggested that I join ASTRA.

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Guest Post: Is Your Computer Running Slow? Here Are 5 Reasons Why — And 5 Ways to Speed Things Up

Guest Post: Is Your Computer Running Slow? Here Are 5 Reasons Why — And 5 Ways to Speed Things Up

The New Year is in full swing and everyone is motivated to work hard after persevering through the post-holiday lull. But as you race from task to task trying to knock out that to-do list before 5:00 PM, perhaps you’ve noticed that your computer can’t seem to keep up.

First things first, don’t panic. Slow-moving desktops and lethargic laptops are more normal than you think — unless you started working on a new computer at some point in the past few months, chances are you’re actually using one right now. But that sluggishness is simply due to your normal activity, as well: running programs, surfing the Internet, and slowly filling up your hard drive.

Below, we’ve collected five of the most common reasons why your computer might be dragging, followed by five ways you can fix those problems and make your desktop or laptop keep pace with your work ethic.

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ASTRA Member Spotlight: Shelli, Start Something LLC

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. 

shelli-smarttHow did you get into the toy industry?
We fell into the additional needs niche several years ago while looking for a product that would help serve the needs of our son with Asperger’s as he was transitioning into middle school.  My husband and I had both worked in the corporate world for 20+ years and had no prior experience in toys or operating a small business.

We decided to join ASTRA because we had been advertising in ASTRA associated publications for several years.  We found that our niche was in the specialty toy store arena.  In the past, we have exhibited at conferences that were clinical in nature.  Joining ASTRA and attending the Marketplace opened us up to a new world of stores.  We also got to meet many store owners that we have worked with over the years, which was a very nice benefit.

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