ASTRA Excellence Awards

The ASTRA Excellence Awards recognize and celebrate the exceptional and meaningful contributions made by companies and individuals in the specialty toy industry. ASTRA members are invited to nominate colleagues to receive this distinguished award. Nominations for the 2019 ASTRA Excellence Awards are due May 1, 2020.


Manufacturer of the Year
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Manufacturer of the Year Award

The nominee must meet the following criteria:

  • Must be a current ASTRA member.
  • Introduced creative new products that have meaningfully contributed to sales growth in specialty retail stores.
  • Developed effective in-store merchandising or promotional programs that have meaningfully contributed to sales growth in specialty retail stores.
  • Understands the existence of multiple channels of distribution. Has developed a strategy that supports the growth of its specialty retail partners and offers a balanced policy that allows various distribution channels to co-exist.
  • Products have been consistently available for shipping.
  • Provides excellent customer service and in-store support on a consistent basis.
  • Has developed, maintained and enforced a MAP policy.
  • Enlists the help of sales reps to support retailers.
  • Creates marketing that drives business to specialty stores.
  • Demonstrates a meaningful commitment to the specialty toy industry.
  • Is willing to take feedback/listens and strives to improve.
  • Goes above and beyond in their efforts to be involved in ASTRA events, interacts with ASTRA members and demonstrates leadership through their interactions, idea sharing and support of ASTRA’s vision to “change the world through the power of play”.
Nominate a Manufacturer
View the Criteria
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2018 Winner - Fat Brain Toy Co.

Retailer of the Year
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Retailer of the Year Award

The nominee must meet the following criteria:

  • Must be a current ASTRA member.
  • Their store(s) is a model of excellence in the specialty retail market that offers a product mix to consumers of unique and innovative products.
  • Utilizes creative or compelling retail marketing through direct mail, public relations, in-store events, merchandise presentations, digital/social marketing electronic media and store environment.
  • Understands the linkage between their store and their community and actively supports community projects and outreach to the community through the effective use of cause related promotions.
  • Provides constructive feedback to vendors to help them better serve the specialty industry.
  • Helps new vendors and new retailers understand the industry and be successful through the sharing of best practices and networking. Acts as a mentor and helps others in the specialty toy industry be successful.
  • Enlists the help of sales reps and sees them as partners in their success.
  • Provides extensive training to staff
  • Goes above and beyond in their efforts to be involved in ASTRA events, interacts with ASTRA members and demonstrates leadership through their interactions, idea sharing and support of ASTRA’s vision to “change the world through the power of play."
Nominate a Retailer
View the Criteria
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2018 Winner - *play

Sales Rep of the Year
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Sales Rep of the Year Award

The nominee must meet the following criteria:

    • Must be a current ASTRA member.
    • Provides excellent customer service and in-store support on a consistent basis.
    • Understands the philosophy and mission of the stores and vendors he/she serves.
    • Excels in following up in coordinating order status, credit issues, damaged goods and recalls between retailers and vendors. Knowledgeable of open order status, conducts physical inventories, if needed, for order recommendations.
    • Understands the technology that is available from his/her manufacturers so customers can apply this technology to their stores, web presence and other digitized formats.
    • Maintains a reasonable line offering to ensure all vendors are fairly presented without being burdensome to his/her retail customers.
    • Carefully curates a line list of complimentary vendors.
    • Willing to support stores through in-store events and staff training when appropriate.
    • Is knowledgeable about the products they sell and has taken the time to educate themselves and their customers about the differences between their products and others on the market.
    • Is on time and ready to work with catalogs, price lists, specials in easy to access formats and has technology needed to have an efficient meeting.
    • Actively negotiates terms, specials, marketing and in-store support to drive sales.
    • Balances the need to stand by and support their manufacturers with the need to understand that not every toy is right for every store.
    • Acts as a liaison between manufacturers and retailers, adding value to these relationships.
    • Takes the time to learn each buyer/store's unique needs and adapts their approach accordingly.
    • Helps new vendors and new retailers understand the industry and be successful through the sharing of best practices and networking.
    • Goes above and beyond in their efforts to be involved in ASTRA events, interacts with ASTRA members and demonstrates leadership through their interactions, idea sharing and support of ASTRA’s vision to “change the world through the power of play”.
    Nominate a Sales Rep
    View the Criteria
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    2018 Winner - Bill St. John


    Young Professional Rising Star
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    Young Professional Rising Star Award

    The nominee must meet the following criteria:

      • Must be a current ASTRA member.
      • Must be 35 years or younger.
      • Demonstrates commitment, perseverance and a desire to grow professionally.
      • Shows leadership skills and has made significant contributions to the industry and the ASTRA community in which they serve through such means as participation on the ASTRA Connect Community boards, committee work and volunteering at Marketplace & Academy.
      • Demonstrates a commitment to the ASTRA Mission of developing and supporting a membership of independent toy retailers, manufacturers, and sales representatives to advance industry growth.
      • Demonstrates a commitment to the specialty toy industry.
      • Has the potential to have a profound impact on the success of the specialty toy industry.
      • Goes above and beyond in their efforts to be involved in ASTRA events, interacts with ASTRA members and demonstrates leadership through their interactions, idea sharing and support of ASTRA’s vision to “change the world through the power of play”.
      Nominate a Young Professional
      View the Criteria
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      2018 Winner - Nick Guffey


      Industry Innovator of the Year
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      Innovator of the Year Award

      As a way of recognizing outstanding innovation and out-of-the-box thinking in the specialty toy industry, ASTRA is seeking nominations for the inaugural Industry Innovator Award. The award will honor professionals who raise the bar in business practices and strategies.

      The nominee must meet the criteria below:

        • Must be a current ASTRA member and goes above and beyond in their efforts to be involved in ASTRA events, interacts with ASTRA members and demonstrates leadership through their interactions, idea sharing and support of ASTRA’s vision to “change the world through the power of play.”
        • Utilizes creative and innovative strategies and techniques (e.g., marketing, public relations,in-store events,merchandise presentations, customer service, interactive product displays, or store environment.
        Nominate an Innovator
        View the Criteria
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        2018 Winner - Cassidy Smith


        Lifetime Achievement
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        Lifetime Achievement Award

        Each year at ASTRA’s Annual Marketplace & Academy the association honors an individual who has demonstrated a career of service to the industry and has significantly contributed to the health, stability and expansion of ASTRA and its mission to grow the specialty toy industry. Since 2001, 15 individuals have been honored with this award; including founders of the association and past Board members.

        Criteria for consideration:

        • Nominee must be a current or past member of the association.
        • Nominee has past service on the Board of Directors, and/or served the association through volunteering, or as an outspoken supporter of the association’s mission and vision.
        • Nominee is a member of the specialty toy industry who has actively promoted the growth of the industry and association through community or public outreach.
        View the Criteria
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        2019 Winner - Beau James