As President of the American Specialty Toy Retailing Association (ASTRA), I lead the trade association that promotes and strengthens the specialty segment of the toy industry. ASTRA is the largest association serving the specialty toy industry, a community that is committed to providing children with healthy, quality play materials that have high play value. ASTRA’S 1900 members are manufacturers, sales representatives and independent retailers who build their businesses around toys that focus less on the razzmatazz features of the toy, and more on what the child can do with the toy by using her imagination and creativity. Specialty toys are about the features of the play, not the features of the toy.
ASTRA was created in 1992 to bring together members of the specialty toy industry to help each other succeed and to provide resources and support to members of the specialty toy industry. Today, its services to members include:
• ASTRA Academy—certification programs designed to give toy professionals the tools they need to be successful in owning and operating a specialty toy business. The Certified Master Retailer Program is now available; other certifications will be announced soon. Additional education programs include Online Seminars/Webinars featuring ASTRA industry experts conducting online seminars on topics to help members run their businesses profitably and ASTRA’s Marketplace & Academy, an education and trade show-focused national meeting held every year in June.
• CPSIA / Legislative Updates – Email updates, nuts-and-bolts compliance guides, and Q&A sessions compiled by ASTRA help your business stay in compliance and ahead of federal and state legislation.
• E-Bulletins & ASTRA Toy Times Magazine – Weekly e-Bulletins and quarterly issues of ASTRA Toy Times Magazine keep you in the know with industry trends, retail developments, manufacturer specials and much more.
• Resource Library – Electronic library full of information on marketing your store, best business practices, hiring, and much more.
• Discussion Boards – Confidential forums where members can discuss topics relevant to their business success.
• ASTRA’s Marketplace & Academy – ASTRA members from around the country converge for a week of sales, seminars, and social networking.
• Toy Fair – Maximize your Toy Fair networking: discuss Toy Fair’s stand-out products with fellow ASTRA retailers at our Share the Fair event, network at our Night in New York, and take a break in the shared ASTRA lounge.
• ASTRA Member Directory – Find manufacturers, sales reps, and affiliates among your ASTRA peers.
PRODUCT SOURCING AND DISCOUNTS
• ASTRATRAX – Contact fellow retailers online and locate items you may not have on hand for a customer request.
• ASTRA Toy Times Magazine – Quarterly publication filled with industry news, retail tips, and new manufacturer profiles.
• Toy Fair – Exclusive member specials from ASTRA manufacturers pay your way.
• ASTRA Marketplace & Academy – Toy makers present their big fourth-quarter products at North America’s largest specialty toy show. ASTRA manufacturers offer exclusives to ASTRA retailers on the show floor.
• Online Store Finder – astratoy.org’s user-friendly store map helps parents find ASTRA member stores in their area.
• ASTRA Branding – Our logo on your store door and website remind parents that you are a part of the nation’s best independent toy seller network.
• Best Toys for Kids Awards – Viewed by millions of readers and journalists nationwide, the list highlights products chosen by ASTRA retailers as the best for kids in the 4th Quarter – with a national marketing campaign and free marketing materials.
• Neighborhood Toy Store Day – A public outreach program and national marketing campaign created to help celebrate the independent toy store and the importance of shopping locally.
- Association executive management
- Articulating and implementing association vision
- Optimizing staff management
- Aligning IT objectives/programs to enterprise strategies
- Designing enterprise processes via technology
- Technology management and training
- Knowledge management