Sweet Suite 2016

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...]

Laser Pegs Launches Junior Collection at ASTRA

LaserPegsJuniorLaser Pegs Ventures is launching Laser Pegs Junior, a line designed specifically for 4 to 7 year olds. The line uses larger parts, features simpler assembly, and has pieces compatible with all Laser Peg kits. Each kit features multiple STEM-friendly builds, including Space, Rescue, Construction, Jets, and Trains. These five kits are the initial unveiling of a long-term plan to add additional products to this collection.

Laser Pegs Junior will have its own logo and packaging and its bricks will be made in new colors. Packaging also will include a “try me” button so kids and adults can try the Laser Pegs light up feature in retail stores.

ASTRA Offers Social Media Sessions to Registered Marketplace & Academy Retailers

ASTRAlogoIndependent toy retailers registered for the American Specialty Toy Retailing Association’s Marketplace & Academy will have access to more than 30 hours of professional education, with five of those hours dedicated to sessions designed to strengthen their use of social media.

Sessions that feature messaging and social media strategies include: “Don’t Just ‘Like’ Facebook, Love It!,” “Social Media Strategy: Your Digital Playbook,” “Instagood Retailer Instagramming,” and “Google+: Socializing Your Internal Communication.”

Other breakouts at ASTRA’s Academy cover business operations, financial management, industry trends, channel relationships, and additional sales and marketing issues.

Record Number of Manufacturers Expected to Exhibit at ASTRA’s Marketplace

ASTRAlogoThe American Specialty Toy Retailing Association’s 2016 Marketplace & Academy will feature a record-breaking 400 exhibitors. Eighty five of those exhibitors will be new to ASTRA.

This year’s Marketplace & Academy will be held in Denver, Colo. from June 5 to 8. Retailers and other industry professionals can discover new products for the fourth quarter in the exhibit hall. Additionally, ASTRA’s Academy will include educational sessions on specialty toy industry business operations, financial management, industry trends, channel relationships, sales, and marketing.

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.

[Read more...]

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.

[Read more...]