ASTRA Manufacturers Donate Toys to Programs Serving Homeless Children in Philadelphia

ASTRAlogoSpecialty toy manufacturers donated five truckloads of toys to nearly a dozen Bright Spaces sites in Philadelphia following the American Specialty Toy Retailing Association’s (ASTRA) Marketplace & Academy trade show and conference in June.

The products went from the Pennsylvania Convention Center, where the show took place, to the intake center and several family shelters run by the Philadelphia Office of Homeless Services for use in Bright Spaces programs located in the shelters.

Bright Spaces programs housed in Philadelphia homeless shelters lets kids play, families gather, and agency staff provide programming and services to families in need.

ASTRA Members Elect New Representatives to Board of Directors

ASTRAlogoMembers of the American Specialty Toy Retailing Association (ASTRA) elected three specialty toy industry leaders to its Board of Directors at ASTRA’s Marketplace & Academy today in Philadelphia. The new representatives are Chair-elect Dee Farrell of Neat-Oh International; retailer Amy Saldanha of kiddywampus; and manufacturer Kevin McGrath from The Original Toy Co.

Eric Quam of Fat Brain Toy Co. assumed the rule of Chair of the ASTRA Board of Directors, who has served as a Chair-elect for the past year.

ASTRA Reveals 2017 Winners of Excellence Awards

astra_logo_smallThe American Specialty Toy Retailing Association (ASTRA) announced the 2017 winners of ASTRA’s Excellence Awards.

The winners were Co-Owners Erin Blanton and Susan Blanton of Pufferbellies Toys and Books for Children in Staunton, VA for Retailer of the Year; HABA in Skaneateles, NY for Manufacturer of the Year; Kimberly Leakas from 24/7 Sales in New York, NY for Sales Representative of the Year; and Elizabeth Royall of Toy Travelers International in High Point, NC for the Young Professional Rising Star of the Year.

Brain Miller to Receive ASTRA Top Honor

logoBrian Miller of the Geppetto’s A Child’s Fantasy toy stores in San Diego, California, will be honored at Marketplace & Academy with ASTRA’s Lifetime Achievement Award.

Miller is a 25-year veteran in the toy industry and owns nine Geppetto’s locations. He started his toy career about the same time ASTRA was founded, and served as a board member and volunteer leader during the beginning of ASTRA. He also helped shape many ASTRA programs still in place today.

Miller will receive the award from ASTRA during its annual Awards Breakfast and Business meeting from 8 to 9:30 a.m. on June 26 at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia.

ASTRA Adds Industry Service Pavilion to Marketplace & Academy

ASTRAMarketplaceThemeAn Industry Service Pavilion will be available for attendees on the exhibit floor at American Specialty Toy Retailing Association (ASTRA)‘s 2017 Marketplace & Academy.

ASTRA affiliate partners participating in the Industry Service Pavilion may provide show-only specials and additional resources to ASTRA attendees who visit the pavilion.

Marketplace & Academy will be held from June 25 to 28 in Philadelphia, Penn. Click here to register!

Hands-On Toy Store to be Built on ASTRA’s Marketplace & Academy Show Floor

ASTRAlogoThe American Specialty Toy Retailing Association (ASTRA)‘s 2017 Marketplace & Academy will include a live, hands-on, experiential toy store—complete with product demonstrations, enthusiastic staff, and giveaways—on the exhibit hall floor.

Called the Neighborhood Toy Store Day Experience (NTSD Experience), the demonstration will offer tools to help retailers make the most of Neighborhood Toy Store Day on Nov. 11. The event will feature complimentary planning resources, hot products, and special offers from specialty-focused manufacturers—all designed to kick start fourth quarter and holiday season sales. [Read more...]

Toy Manufacturers Support Scholarship Fund for ASTRA Retailers

logoSeveral toy manufacturers have contributed to a scholarship fund to help American Specialty Toy Retailing Association (ASTRA) retailers facing financial hardship attend ASTRA’s 2017 Marketplace & Academy event in Philadelphia. This event will take place from June 25 through 28.

Those who contribute $1,000 or more to the scholarship fund will be featured in an article of the ASTRA Toy Times Magazine September issue. They will also receive recognition at the annual business meeting in the ASTRA Digest.

Nearly 140 First-Time Exhibitors to Participate at ASTRA’s Marketplace

ASTRAMarketplaceThemeOne hundred and thirty-eight toy manufacturers will be participating for the first time at the American Specialty Toy Retailing Association‘s (ASTRA) upcoming Marketplace & Academy. The exhibit hall, ASTRA’s largest ever, is sold out.  [Read more...]

ASTRA Certifies 28 New Play Experts

Play_EXPERTThe American Specialty Toy Retailing Association (ASTRA) has chosen 28 specialty toy retailers, sales representatives, and manufacturers to earn the ASTRA Certified Play Expert credential during ASTRA’s first in-person certification workshop held from Sept. 10 to 11 in Chicago, Ill.

The CPE Workshop provides networking opportunities, dynamic discussions, and hands-on activities to further support the message on the value of play. ASTRA also offers the option of becoming a Certified Play Expert with an online course with 10 modules followed by tests to confirm the candidate’s learning that can be completed at a pace that works best for the candidate. Click here for more information.

ASTRA to Honor Steven Aarons at Annual Awards Breakfast

PrintThe American Specialty Toy Retailing Association (ASTRA) will honor specialty toy retailer and industry leader Steven Aarons, owner of the Barstons Child’s Play toy stores in the Washington, DC area at Marketplace & Academy with the Lifetime Achievement Award.

A veteran of more than 30 years in the toy industry, Aarons was involved in several ASTRA initiatives that positioned the specialty side for the industry for increased visibility among consumers—including the Best Toys for Kids awards program and Neighborhood Toy Store Day. He also provided leadership to the trade with supporting growth of ASTRA’s Marketplace & Academy and encouraging ASTRA’s efforts on sales tax fairness and toy safety issues. Aarons also chaired the ASTRA Board of Directors from 2010 to 2011. [Read more...]