Sweet Suite 2016

ASTRA Announces 2016 Marketplace & Academy Keynote Speakers

astra_logo_smallStress management guru Colette Carlson and Bob Phibbs, the Retail Doctor, will headline the American Specialty Toy Retailing Association’s (ASTRA’s) 2016 Marketplace & Academy taking place June 5-8, 2016 in Denver, Colo. [Read more...]

ASTRA’s Certified Play Expert Program Open for Enrollment

PrintThe American Specialty Toy Retailing Association’s (ASTRA’s) Certified Play Expert program is now open for enrollment. The program is a new education initiative to help specialty toy professionals strengthen their businesses.

The Certified Play Expert program provides research-based instruction in several core areas, including theories of child development, characteristics of major developmental stages, play for children with disabilities, types of play and their benefits, toy safety, choosing toys and play activities, advocating for play, and making sense of play. [Read more...]

ASTRA’s 2016 Marketplace & Academy Booths Sell Out

astra_logo_smallBooth space is sold out for ASTRA’s 2016 Marketplace & Academy, but the exhibitor waitlist is now open. One 10×5 corner booth is still available for 2016 but is only for new, first-time ASTRA exhibitors with five or fewer product lines or types.

In order to be added to the waitlist, exhibitors must complete the updated 2016 Exhibit Space Application and Contact with a 50 percent deposit payment and accept the rules and regulations. All five pages of the contract and payment can be submitted to Laura Dann, preferably via email at exhibit@astratoy.org, or otherwise by fax at (312) 222-0986. ASTRA staff will then send a confirmation email that the application has been received for the wait list.

ASTRA staff can be contacted by email at exhibit@astratoy.org or by phone at (312) 222-0984 with any questions.

ASTRA Names Kimberly Mosley Its New President

Kimberly MosleyKimberly Mosley, MBA, CAE has been appointed president of the American Specialty Toy Retailing Association (ASTRA), its board of directors announced today.

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COMMENTARY: Everybody’s Game at ASTRA Game Night

A version of this commentary first appeared in the July/August issue of The Toy Book.

ASTRA Game Night Pic 1

ASTRA Game Night took place in Ballroom CD of the Charlotte Convention Center.

Game nights are a terrific way to unwind, and the one hosted by the American Specialty Toy Retailing Association (ASTRA) during its Marketplace & Academy in Charlotte, N.C., this past June was no exception.

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GUEST COMMENTARY: Game Stores versus Toy Stores: There’s More than Enough Fun to Go Around

by Sara Erickson, owner, Rook’s Comics and Games

Rook's InteriorSitting in my game store on a warm Saturday afternoon, I watch as customers stream in with tote bags full of games they plan on playing during the next three or four hours. I know most of them by name and would consider many of them my friends. They’ve been shopping and playing at my store for the past nine years, and I’ve seen them grow from awkward teenagers into professional adults. Many have even outgrown my store and are now shopping at the local toy store across the street for their own kids. Eventually, the cycle will repeat and I’ll be selling the newest hot game to the next generation.

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Q&A, Erin Black, Founder of Lyla Tov Monsters

Lyla Tov Monsters is a line of plush dolls created by the mother-daughter team of Erin Black, and her daughter, Lyla Black. Recently, The Toy Book had a chance to sit down with Erin and talk to her about doll-making, launching a Kickstarter campaign, the future of the specialty doll space, and more.

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ASTRA Names 2015 Best Toys for Kids

ASTRAlogoThe American Specialty Toy Retailing Association (ASTRA) unveiled its 2015 Best Toys for Kids award winners. This year’s list includes 18 winning toys in 14 categories.

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ASTRA Launches Certified Master Retailer Program

ASTRAlogoThe American Specialty Toy Retailing Association (ASTRA) has launched the Certified Master Retailer program, a professional education initiative to help toy retailers strengthen their businesses.

The program provides seven core areas of instruction in business and finance; merchandising; marketing; personnel management and coaching; customer and vendor relations; technology; and children and play. The staff at the retail stores can access the course through on-demand webinars and can earn a Certified Master Retailer credential  by demonstrating their mastery of the material.

ASTRA to Honor Industry Leaders at Marketplace & Academy

ASTRAlogoThe American Specialty Toy Retailing Association (ASTRA) will honor Jonny Girson of The Learning Tree toy stores with ASTRA’s Lifetime Achievement Award. The annual awards ceremony will take place on June 8, during the annual Marketplace and Academy at the Charlotte Convention Center in Charlotte, NC. [Read more...]