Industry Outlook

It’s 2011. What Can ASTRA Do for You This Year?

While American Specialty Retailing Association (ASTRA) members were busy selling the best toys in the business during the last quarter of 2010, ASTRA’s staff and volunteer leaders were busy planning ways to help them grow their businesses in 2011.

ASTRA members can look forward to a year of strategic, member-driven, well-organized programs and services tailored to the unique needs of specialty toy retailers, manufacturers, and sales reps. ASTRA helps retailers save money on products and business expenses, connect with each other, and learn. Here is a sample of ASTRA’s 2011 programs for its members:

  • ASTRA’s Marketplace & Academy, the year’s biggest gathering of the specialty toy industry, has a nearly full exhibit hall and an impressive roster of speakers lined up on hot topics: customer service, marketing to moms, and much more. We look forward to seeing you June 19–22, 2011, in family-friendly Anaheim, Calif. Register by February 28 for the early bird discount.
  • Best Toys for Kids, now in its sixth year, will feature winning toys from manufacturer members and offer retailers a platform for media coverage during the holiday season. ASTRA will provide complimentary four-color flyers for retailers and support the program with national and local media outreach.
  • National Neighborhood Toy Store Day is once again scheduled for the second Saturday in November. ASTRA members will get a step-by-step guide to mounting a successful event, and will be supported by ASTRA’s outreach to mommy bloggers in key markets.
  • Website upgrade. is undergoing a major redesign. The end result will be a destination site with easy access to member services and industry news. In addition to a quick and easy specialty toy store locater, consumers will find extensive information about the link between play and learning and the advantages of shopping locally.
  • Special deals and discounts, always a priority of ASTRA’s efforts, will continue to save members money on products from manufacturers and services from affinity programs designed to give locally owned businesses, which make up the bulk of our membership, the buying power of large corporations.

Kathleen McHugh is president of ASTRA. Visit for more information.