On the Road Recap: What We Discovered

What a week! We hit the road final week to check out ASTRA retailers in Kansas and Minnesota. What did we learn about these independent toy retailers? They are passionate about play and pondering outdoors of the box to keep ten methods ahead of the game. Here are some of our takeaways from our time on the road.

31530328_10156315407284233_4539611391595821928_n.jpgIt’s Not Always About the Place Location, place, place is supposed to be the be all and end all in retail, correct? Not for Lark Toys! The store sits practically in the middle of practically nothing on Highway 61 in southern Minnesota. Rather than location, place, location, Lark Toys focuses on encounter, expertise, encounter. That’s what draws the crowds. What can buyers expertise when they step into the retailer? Llamas, wooden toys handmade in the store, a huge carousel featuring wooden animals carved and painted in their shop, homemade fudge made on location, and – of course – toys, books and gifts galore.

31819302_10156324924769233_3268642542308032512_n.jpgLocated on the principal street of an outskirt Minneapolis suburb, kiddywampus‘ signature feature is their paint wall”. Posters on their window when we visited announced a community fund-raiser that is raising money to supply beds for kids. For $10 you can throw paint on the wall for 20 mins! Kiddywampus has summer camp” sessions, birthday parties and lots of classes throughout the year. Whilst kiddywampus is a for-profit business, all after-tax profits from the store go to charities benefiting children and families in their community.

Chosen by Publisher’s Weekly as Bookstore of the Year in 2017, Wild Rumpus Bookstore is a treasure. No only do they have a vast choice of books (largely children’s books) they also feature activities and two cats and a chicken roaming the shop.

Red Balloon Bookstore functions storytimes that function readings and singing Once an ASTRA member and hopefully quickly to turn out to be 1 once again, this is a St. Paul institution” located in the really effectively recognized Grand Avenue” purchasing neighborhood. We arrived at the tail finish of story time and the combination of story reading and singing was magical.

Know Your Audience – and Act Accordingly In the toy sector, retail slows down in the summer. But ABC Toy Zone recognizes that it is the prime time when teachers perform on their upcoming school year plans and when parents are seeking for the merchandise to keep the finding out going in the course of the summer. To accommodate these teachers and parents, ABC Toy Zone adjusts their product mix by constructing up their teacher materials and educational goods for summer season and focusing on toys for the fall and winter. On top of that, they program a Santa’s Wonderland – comprehensive with Santa for the holidays – for a year-round experience that consumers return to again and once again.

31818945_10156321029494233_577875819473403904_n.jpgGet Creative to Connect with Your Consumers First it is the large K’Nex ferris wheel in the window that draws clients in and inside it really is the solution choice of hands-on toys that maintain them inside for hours of play. To amp up the enjoyable, Fat Brain Toys incorporates inventive out-of-the-box events (image a truck hauling in sand for a beach party!) and offers an straightforward way for consumers to order right from their on the internet retailer in the occasion that they do not have stock on the internet.

At The Understanding Tree, adults need to enter through the typical door, but youngsters can come in by means of their personal entrance through a smaller door and by means of little home to get into the retailer. With normal newsletters advertising their complete calendar of events, they’re recognized in the neighborhood as the gathering spot for entertaining.

31698771_10156321029134233_2005538951711948800_n.jpgFind Your Sweet Spot (and Own It!) Customers can locate something and every thing associated to science all in one spot at Brookside Toy & Science. Alongside science kits and boxes, this store features chemical substances, beakers, microscope and skeletons for clients to take their science learning to the next level. To add on to their solution mix, they’ve devoted further aisles to toys, games and puzzles.

Now in company for far more than 39 years, Hub Hobby is a correct hobby shop with trains, drones, models to build and paint as well as a complete toy retailer. A lot more than 65,000 things are in their POS program. Along with a staff that know the intricacies of the model, train and remote-handle items they also host gaming groups in a room they have on website that can seat up to 40.

Get the Family Involved At The Toy Store, buyers coming via the historic building’s doors will encounter a loved ones organization that spans three generations and continues to hold the passion for the toy market alive. 3 floors (all accessible with an elevator for every person to take pleasure in) feature toys, games, puzzles, books and arts and crafts.

31793503_10156321053014233_5035788870399033344_n.jpgHow a lot of occasions do you hear of a yo-yo-championship-winning son convincing his father to get in the toy organization and become a member of ASTRA? That is what happened with Go Huge Ability Toys. Originally intending to turn into a Party City franchise, Go Big Talent Toys decided to focus on the toy sector. The shop features free of charge ability toy workshops for all ages and focus on creating a community of thinkers and doers that thrive to discover and express themselves.

Let the Passion for Play Motivate Mischief first opened as Pea Pods and did so primarily based on their belief in and passion for all-natural toys and baby merchandise. Long prior to they became trendy, they provided cloth diapers and BPA cost-free items. As the trend grew and their after-specialty market place became a lot more mainstream, Mischief reinvented themselves to focus on a new passion: toys and games for older youngsters and products that appeal to all ages. They have a area full of games for anyone to come in and play.

Jax Ltd. was lately bought by Goliath Games. Cindy Levine and her family members have run Jax Ltd. out of their Minneapolis location and have been ASTRA members considering that 1997. As they are winding down the Minneapolis workplace, we wanted to cease and speak with Cindy. The stories she shared of their beginnings and growth show the tenacity of our independently owned businesses and their powerful entrepreneurial spirit. Cindy’s dad – 94 years young – still comes in to the office every single day in his suit, white shirt and bowtie.

Collaborate with Colleagues to Make a Bigger Influence IMG_1113 Retailers, producers and sales representatives worked together to organize a Kansas City game night, made for retailers to bring in their employees to discover games whilst connecting with other individuals in the business. As an industry, we are mighty together – and Game Night is a great example of the power of play that takes place when we function with each other.

See much more photographs over on the ASTRA Facebook page. Many thanks to the retailers, sales representatives and companies who welcomed us so warmly: Lark Toys, ABC Toy Zone, Fat Brain Toys, Brookside Toy & Science, The Understanding Tree, The Toy Store of Lawrence, Go Large Skills and Toys, Wild Rumpus Bookstore, Red Balloon Bookstore, Mischief, Hub Hobby, kiddywampus, Jax Ltd, Toy Time, Picture That Toys, CR Toys, Cowley Distributing, Moon Marble and all of the sales representatives who cover the Midwest!

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