ASTRA Prepares for 2021 Marketplace & Academy

Next week, the American Specialty Toy Retailing Association (ASTRA) will usher in a new era of live events with its first in-person trade show since 2019.

The 2021 ASTRA Marketplace & Academy, taking place Aug. 5-8, will welcome retailers and toymakers that are looking to get shelves stocked for a prosperous Q4 and holiday season. With the global supply chain issues still unfolding, this show will give all parties involved a chance to connect with plans to keep the positive toy industry momentum going.

“Our members really came together and helped each other get through the pandemic, shared things that worked for them, and our association pivoted and created programming to help during this unprecedented time,” says ASTRA President Sue Warfield. “Members have shared how critical they view our in-person Minneapolis show to cement and spark relationships with business owners they rely on, to touch and play with toys and games to sell in stores and on a human level, to see others they care about who they’ve missed for over a year. We can’t wait to bring everyone together!”

The Toy Book in Minneapolis:

Members of the Toy Book editorial and marketing teams from Adventure Media & Events (also representing the Toy Insider and the Pop Insider) will be present in Minneapolis for the Marketplace & Academy to connect with members of the industry. If you’re attending the show, be sure to pick up a copy of our annual Specialty Toy issue, which hits the streets on Aug. 5, just as the doors open. Our new issue is packed with must-read features and a showcase of incredible new toys and games that retailers won’t want to miss!

Related: ASTRA Reveals 2021 Best Toys for Kids Winners

ASTRA notes that this year’s Academy portion of the show will include the following presentations:

  • Retail Store Management: Hiring and Retaining Staff. 
  • Online Web Management: Where Do I Start?
  • Merchandising: Outside and In!
  • Community Involvement: Keeping the “Shop Local” Message Alive and Helping Your Community
  • Online Giants: Best Practices for Competing
  • Retail Store Management: Doing Business in a New World – Web Management, Social Media, Curbside, and Delivery
  • Best Practices from 2020: Retailer Lessons Learned
  • More Than One Store Location? The Opportunities and Challenges of Multiple Stores
  • Financial Planning Through Thick & Thin
  • Town Hall Meeting: Members of the ASTRA Board to Inform and Answer Questions
  • Bus Tour of Independent Toy Stores including SC Toys, Mischief, Hub Hobby, Something Safari, kiddywampus, Legacy Toys, Good Things 
  • They’re Selling my Product for How Much?  
  • New (and long term) Manufacturers – Best Practices for Working with Sales Reps
  • Packaging – The Manufacturer’s Merchandising Key to Success
  • Lessons Learned in 2020 for Manufacturers and Sales Reps 

Registration for the Marketplace trade show portion of the event is free until Aug. 4 and includes access to the show floor. Full Conference registration includes:

  • $50 Visa gift card 
  • Bonus trade show hours
  • Show-only discounts 
  • $30 VISA Card to help with transportation from the airport to downtown, courtesy of Meet Minneapolis
  • Drawings at noon each day on the Trade Show Floor for retailers to win on-site shopping sprees hosted by vendors
  • Access to Game and Kit Playtime, Share the Fair, Lip Sync Battle, Opening Reception, and more. 

Additionally, this the first year that orders can be written at the tables and there are additional show specials for those orders written during the event that are better than the standard ASTRA show specials, including FFA on any size order, free demo games with one case ordered, etc. Each manufacturer has designed its own special offers. Visit each booth for details. For information on updated COVID-19 guidelines, click here.

About the author

James Zahn

James Zahn

James Zahn, AKA The Rock Father, is Editor-in-Chief of The Toy Book, a Senior Editor at The Toy Insider and The Pop Insider, and Editor of The Toy Report, The Toy Book‘s weekly industry newsletter. As a pop culture and toy industry expert, Zahn has appeared as a panelist and guest at events including Comic-Con International: San Diego (SDCC) Wizard World Chicago, and the ASTRA Marketplace & Academy. Zahn has more than 30 years of experience in the entertainment, retail, and publishing industries, and is frequently called upon to offer expert commentary for publications such as Forbes, Marketwatch, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, USA Today, Reuters, the Washington Post, and more. James has appeared on History Channel’s Modern Marvels, was interviewed by Larry King and Anderson Cooper, and has been seen on Yahoo! Finance, CNN, CNBC, FOX Business, NBC, ABC, CBS, WGN, The CW, and more. Zahn joined the Adventure Media & Events family in 2016, initially serving as a member of the Parent Advisory Board after penning articles for the Netflix Stream Team, Fandango Family, PBS KIDS, Sprout Parents (now Universal Kids), PopSugar, and Chicago Parent. He eventually joined the company full time as a Senior Editor and moved up the ranks to Deputy Editor and Editor-in-Chief.