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ASTRA Newsletter
American Specialty Toy Retailing Association
April 1999

It was a Good Time!

By Lisa Almeida

It's always easy for me to write about or for ASTRA because it is a passionate topic for me. The power we possess in our dedication to common goals never ceases to astound me. So, for the love of ASTRA, I pried myself out of bed at 6:00 am after 2 long days trudging the happy halls of Toy Fair, including the newly expanded Specialty Pavilion, and went looking for Mr. Good in the bowels of the Javits Center.

I entered the room, looked down at my seat and spied a nose flute. I knew immediately that this, to borrow a familiar slogan, was going be worth the trip. Believe it or not, there were some folks in the room who didn't even know what a nose flute was much less how to use one. Not me. It is a well-known fact that women prone to donning chicken chapeaus are intimately familiar with the workings of nose flutes. Sid Good gave some on-the-spot lessons to the less culturally advanced and we all blew a round of Happy (belated) Birthday to Abraham Lincoln. As far as I was concerned, Mr. Good didn't have to say or do another thing. I'd already gotten my money's worth. But there was more.

He spoke of how kids will influence the future of our businesses and our need to be flexible, act like kids, be creative and have fun. None of this should pose a challenge to any ASTRA member worth his or her salt. With some creative visuals, Sid showed us Dick (of Dick and Jane fame) and Dick Jr., vastly different sporting a Walkman and roller blades. This example was designed as an illustration of such new age realities as time compression (as technology advances we continually accomplish more in less time), age compression (kids are graduating out of toys at younger ages) and age extension (folks are living longer).

Mr. Good's presentation was followed by a panel discussion comprised of ASTRA members. The input and ideas of other ASTRA members continues to be one of the most valuable components of membership for me. At this meeting, the panel put meat onto the bones Sid Good had tossed out.

Sid had some really great information and perspectives to share with us regarding product development and strategic marketing. However, I did get the feeling he was trying to cram some great big ideas into a little tiny time slot. Fortunately, we will all have the opportunity to hear him expand on his ideas in San Diego.

Some of Sid Says:

Act like a kid!
o Reach out to adults as well as kids
o Adults: Reach out to "inner child" - help invoke memories
o Make the inner child a new and valued customer - toy for adults
o Make shopping "kid friendly" for both big and little kids
o (Literally) go shopping as a kid and as an adult (see it through their eyes)
o Get down on your knees. See your store through the eyes of a child (kid vision)

Be Creative!
o Recognize what you like most about the companies or businesses that you patronize - you don't have to re-invent the wheel
o Borrow and learn from the success/failure of others
o Continuity Programs/Affinity Cards, free gift-wrap, senior discounts, etc.
o Create a gift registry - send birthday cards
o Schedule events and special programs
o Create a kids and parents advisory board
o Form community partnerships
o Post calendar of events on Web site - e-mail/newsletters on customer news/product news and bulletins
o Photo/art board in-store

Have Fun!
o Ensure that your toys, staff, and store are more fun than any other option for shopping
o Make shopping a social opportunity
o Read "301 Ways to Have Fun at Work" by D. Hemsath and L. Yerkes
o Keep staff happy - staff keep customers happy
o Shoppers out to play - if they have fun, they buy more!


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