Thursday, June 26, 2008

ASTRA Conference wraps up

I got back last night after attending my first American Specialty Toy Retailers Association (ASTRA) Conference this past week up at Foxwoods, Connecticut. I learned the following things over the past couple of days:

1 - Compared to Toy Fair, the ASTRA show is the hands-down winner. Sure, it's kinda comparing apples to oranges, but the intimate nature of the show, the seminars that addressed specialty retailing, the more relevant manufacturers at the show all made it a better event for me than Toy Fair. Now you're not gonna replace Toy Fair - it is what it is, but ASTRA has done a great job in presenting something that any independent retailer should try to get to.

2 - The seminars were wonderful - easily worth the price of admission in and of themseslves. I attended the opening session with Rick Segal, the web session with Don Hays, the two profit sessions with Al Bates and the closing session with Bob Phibbs. All were on the mark as far as relevance to my situation. I wanted to attend a couple other sessions and had a difficult time choosing between sessions, but ended up attending the sessions I thought I should go to instead of the ones I wanted to go to. Plus, I attended the impromptu ASTRA Mac users group meeting, led by John MacDougall of the Golden Apple Learning Store in Pleasanton, California - which was a nice little breakout meeting to compare notes on using Macs in our businesses.

3 - Driving TO Foxwoods at 3:30 am on a Sunday is vastly quicker than driving FROM Foxwoods at 1 pm on a Wednesday afternoon.

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