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May 2015 | Vol. XIV - No. 5
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Retailers Share Why ASTRA is Essential

Why do independent toy retailers love going to ASTRA? We asked several retailers if they go, why they go, and what they're looking for at the show. Only three of the 10 retailers we surveyed aren't attending the ASTRA Marketplace, June 8th-June 9th in Charlotte, N.C., this year. For those that are, Elizabeth Royall, buyer for Wonder Works in Charleston, S.C., summed up the overall excitement surrounding the show well:

"We wouldn’t miss it for the world! This is our favorite show, as we are surrounded by brilliant folks that share the same philosophy that we do! With it being a smaller show, it gives us a chance to really get to know our fellow toy store owners/buyers, vendors, and reps. ASTRA is a show where you get one-on-one attention from vendors and reps, a chance to really get to know others, and GREAT customer service, all of which we offer to our customers in our stores. You could say it is like going to the BIGGEST and BEST Specialty Toy store ever!"

"In addition to the booths, ASTRA has valuable seminars worth attending," Mary Tague from Toy Town Inc in Key Biscayne, Fla., told us.

Find out what other retailers are keeping an eye out for at this year's ASTRA marketplace, and what they love about the show, below.

"I'm looking for specialty only, or unique imported items that we don't have a lot of in mass U.S. distribution. I like it because I get a lot of facetime with manufacturers -- you don't get that at the big toy shows."
— David Stelzer, owner of Shananigans Toys in Baltimore, Md.

"I'm looking for everything, but nothing in particular. I like that the people who are there, for the most part, are obviously commited to independent toy stores, and not just looking for Walmart to come to their booth."
— Taka Andrews, owner of Miller's Toys in Mamaroneck, N.Y.

"I'm not looking for anything specific. We like the show as it is smaller and more manageable. Much more time to talk with vendors and find new items."
— Dean Smith, owner of Jazams Toys in Princeton, N.J.

"I'm looking for new and unique toys that ideally avoid batteries or a plug. ASTRA's easier to navigate than Toy Fair, and not as expensive. You can spend more quality time at booths, and can play with items."
— Joe Novak, owner of Kazoo Toys of Buckhead in Atlanta, Ga.

"This year we will be looking for products to expand our variety, as well as what the latest trends are. 6 months into the year, we will be looking for what is going to be hot for Christmas. Three categories that we are expanding on this year are books, games, and tween, so products for those sections will be key!"
— Elizabeth Royall, buyer for Wonder Works in Charleston, S.C.

"I look for vendors I have never seen before and for product that is unique but sellable - product that will set us apart and keep us fresh. ASTRA Marketplace is by far the best show to attend. Because of the atmosphere and size, there is a real opportunity to find new vendors that may have been overlooked at Toy Fair or only show at ASTRA. Networking with both vendors and other retailers is extremely beneficial. Also the ASTRA specials make this a buying show whereas Toy Fair is a looking show."
— Heather Rounds, buyer for Smart Kids Company in Greenwich, Conn.

Still not sure what to expect? Check out our coverage of the 2014 ASTRA Marketplace & Academy below.

TDmonthly Kid Reporters Dig the Dirt (& Dino Poop) at ASTRA

2014 ASTRA Kid Reporter Videos

ASTRA 2014 Live Retailer and Kid Reporter Coverage

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Justina HuddlestonWriter's Bio: Justina Huddleston graduated Magna Cum Laude from Emerson College with a BA in Writing, Literature, and Publishing in 2009. After graduating she was the on-site director of the Boston Children's Museum gift store for a year, selling educational, developmental, and creative activity toys that tied in with the museum's exhibits. Justina also interned at children's book publisher Candlewick Press before moving from Boston to Los Angeles, where she is now Editorial Director of TDmonthly Magazine. Read more articles by this author

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