Industry Outlook

Get in the Game: Three Reminders for Independent Retailers This Holiday Season

When it comes to gifts for kids, you want your customers to think of your store first. You want new customers to discover you. Be at the top of your game this holiday season with a focus on these strategies from The American Specialty Toy Retailing Assocation (ASTRA):

1. Keep focused on your competitive advantage. You offer your customers superior products and great service for a fair price, and it is far easier to shop at your store than to navigate the long aisles and aggressive crowds at big box stores. Make sure all your employees understand your competitive advantage, and deliver on its promise.

2. Communicate with your customers early and often. Every chance you get, remind your customers that they get higher value toys and lower stress shopping experiences: in your newsletter, on your website, in Facebook postings, and in your tweets. Ask them to spread the word to all their friends on Facebook or by retweeting your message.

3. Reach out to your local media. It is holiday time and this is your moment! You can offer several high-appeal media stories, including: best toy lists, tips for selecting toys, the case for shopping locally, and how small businesses are faring this year. Take 20 minutes and contact half a local dozen journalists and bloggers and introduce yourself as a resource. ASTRA provides numerous templates to guide you in pitching a story—check out the Best Toys for Kids list ( and Neighborhood Toy Store Day ( for shop local information in addition to media outreach resources you can find at

Kathleen McHugh is president of The American Specialty Toy Retailing Association (ASTRA). Visit