by KIMBERLY MOSLEY, president, American Specialty Toy Retailing Association

Small business is a big topic any discussion about the economy, jobs, and politics. One reason is that most employers in the U.S. are, in fact, small businesses. According to the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council, 89% of American companies have fewer than 20 workers.

That statistic covers most members of the American Specialty Toy Retailing Association (ASTRA) who are retailers and many others who are sales representatives or manufacturers.

Because so many of us in the independent toy industry operate with a small staff, it’s likely that a large percentage of our members have something in common beyond their love for quality toys, especially during the all-important fourth quarter: sleep deprivation.

We cannot give you extra hours in your day; however, in some parts of your work, perhaps ASTRA can help you accomplish more with the hours you do have. We are always looking for ways to help members leverage their time and energy so they can get to the “grow my business” part of their to-do lists.

Here are some ways that having ASTRA on your team can give you leverage.

Jazz up your in-store activities

Events are great friend-makers, but it takes a lot of work to come up with winning ideas and get all the details in place. If you are doing an event for Neighborhood Toy Store Day, for example, ASTRA does some of the work by providing ideas for your celebration, creating turnkey marketing and PR resources and arranging play-day kits and other materials to use at your event. For other times of the year, take another look at those planning resources and repurpose them to attract store traffic. You can also shortcut your way to fresh, in-store programming by idea-sharing with ASTRA members through ASTRA Connect, the online member community, or through direct outreach.

Jumpstart your public relations program with ASTRA resources

You have the best toys in town and a pretty good list of your customers’ email addresses. You’re getting your brand out there on social media, which mostly reaches those toy buyers who already know about you. But you just don’t have the time to create the media list and write the press releases that could introduce your store to a much larger audience through traditional media and local mommy bloggers.

Wouldn’t it be a huge business boost if they helped you get your photogenic toy store on the evening news just before the winter holidays, Valentine’s Day, or Easter? ASTRA members get a regional media list and carefully crafted press release templates to support their Neighborhood Toy Store Day activities.

These resources are great for that event, and even better for repurposing and using all year long. Check out ASTRA webinars, such as “Get Ready for the Next Media Moment,” which walks you through the essentials of a successful public relations program. They are made for Neighborhood Toy Store Day, but they are yours to repurpose.

Save time with business services vetted by ASTRA

Every small business needs insurance, legal advice, information and technology services, affordable shipping, and other vendor-provided resources that your purchasing department needs to research and select. Wait, … you don’t have a purchasing department? ASTRA helps perform aspects of that function by finding reliable vendors willing to provide you with discounts or other deals because you are an ASTRA member.

Of course, there are some things that only you can do for your business because they require your unique understanding of your brand and your community. However, joining forces makes sense for other things, such as sharing information and experiences to create resources that each individual member can tailor and repurpose. That’s where ASTRA comes into play.

As we head into a new year and decade, give yourself extra bandwidth (and maybe even a better night’s sleep) by putting ASTRA on your team. Take another look at all of the services, resources, education, programming, and materials ASTRA has available, then leverage and repurpose your way to a strong year.


This article originally appeared in the December/January 2020 issue of the Toy Book.