Events News

ASTRA Readies for 2021 Marketplace & Academy

ASTRA Logo Toy Fair Game and Kit Day

The American Specialty Toy Retailing Association (ASTRA) will give retailers a first look at the newest products at its first in-person trade show since 2019, on August 5-8, in Minneapolis.

While inventory issues as well as increased shipping delays and costs pose a challenge to keep items in stock, this year’s Marketplace & Academy — themed “Play It Forward” — aims to give retailers a leg up on back-to-school, Halloween, and holiday inventory.

“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,” said 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 & 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.”

Speakers and presenters will address retailers, manufacturers, and reps about strategies for success. Educational sessions on August 5, the Academy portion of the schedule, are as follows:

  • 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 1 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


Trade show registration is free until August 4 and includes access to the trade 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.


There will be some changes to Game and Kit Playtime this year, which for the first time will open up to all full conference badge holders, including sales reps, manufacturers, and affiliates. This is also the first year that orders can be written at the tables, with additional show specials for 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, and more.  Each manufacturer has designed their own special offers.

Game & Kit Playtime will also host a raffle for a 2022 M&A experience for Long Beach. Each retailer will receive a ticket at a table after they learn the kit/game. Tickets collected will be used to turn in for prizes that include product special offers, VISA gift cards, and for final drawings of bigger prizes.