Just as there is “no place like home,” there is also “no place like a specialty store during the holidays.”
Think back to your childhood. The holidays are magical, not only because of the bright lights, decorations, and food, but also because of the toy store experience: the endless aisles of toys and games and the wonderful, warm atmosphere. Walking into a toy store brings magic to those who enter.
Independent toy stores offer an amazingly unique selection of toys and gifts. Specialty retailers can find new things to stock ahead of the holiday season, while also placing last-minute orders to get popular products on the shelves in the middle of the season. And, the toy buying frenzy doesn’t stop after December, because the magic of the season continues as customers redeem their gift cards.
In addition to the wide selection of toys, specialty retailers are true resources for their customers. More and more ASTRA members are becoming ASTRA-Certified Play Experts, which requires them to complete a two-day program packed with education about the scientifically proven value of play. And play is important for all of us, because remember: holiday magic and play are not just for kids!
ASTRA kicks off the holiday season with the magic of Neighborhood Toy Store Month. During the month of November, Neighborhood Toy Store Month celebrates the essential role of local toy stores in cultivating play, education, and community connection. It highlights the crucial contribution of neighborhood stores in nurturing imagination, creativity, and cognitive development in children. What used to be just a day was expanded to a month to give specialty stores the opportunity to schedule events over a longer period of time. This year, the theme is Play Education, and through the School of Play, we will shine a light on the very important value of playtime for everyone. Watch for the full roll-out of our whimsical principals and students as we complete the graphics for our stores to use in their campaigns and for their events.
During the month of November, Neighborhood Toy Store Month celebrates the essential role of local toy stores in cultivating play, education, and community connection. It highlights the crucial contribution of neighborhood stores in nurturing imagination, creativity, and cognitive development in children.”
What else helps create magical memories at specialty stores during the holidays? Store windows! A child staring in awe at a store window decorated for the holidays is a true moment of wonder. Specialty stores do an amazing job of decorating their windows for the holidays, creating lasting feelings of warmth and generating excitement about what fun awaits inside. ASTRA will hold its third annual store decorating contest this year with submissions judged by children. The grand prize this year will be a full conference registration for our 2024 Marketplace & Academy in St. Louis.
As we look toward the holidays, our specialty stores are the place to go to experience real holiday cheer, as retailers help their customers get the best possible gifts for those on their lists. From infants to adults, the magic of the holidays has always revolved around toys and play. Make it count this year.
A version of this feature was originally published in the 2023 Toy Fair issue of The Toy Book. Click here to read the full issue! Want to receive The Toy Book in print? Click here for subscription options!