Neighborhood specialty toy store owners are the real experts when it comes to choosing toys for kids, said Kimberly Mosley, president of the American Specialty Toy Retailing Association (ASTRA), a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting local toy shopping and creative, open-ended playtime for children. "These store owners spend time with kids day in and day out. They understand the value of play, and what types of toys encourage active, open-ended and creative playtime." Many of the store owners participating in Neighborhood Toy Store Day have earned the ASTRA Certified Play Expert (CPE) designation after completing research-based instruction on how play influences child development and the learning brain.
As a result, neighborhood toy stores offer a carefully curated product selection and provide trusted recommendations on quality toys that offer good value. Because they needn't adhere to a national sales plan like major chains, they can customize their offerings to specific community needs. And because they source products from both big-brand manufacturers and small, entrepreneurial companies, they introduce children to a world of toys that, often, can't be found elsewhere.
Local stores also make holiday toy shopping easier, by offering a personalized approach and additional customer service that contrasts with the sometimes frazzling experience of shopping large retailers.
In addition, shopping locally supports the community by creating jobs and preserving neighborhoods. Compared to chain stores, independent local businesses put a significantly larger share of revenue back into the local economy in the form of taxes, salaries and more. They also support environmental sustainability, by helping to maintain vibrant, walkable town centers, essential to reducing sprawl, automobile use, habitat loss, and air and water pollution.
For more information on Neighborhood Toy Store Day and to find your neighborhood toy store, visit https://www.astratoy.org/shop-local/neighborhood-toy-store-day.
Founded in 1992, the American Specialty Toy Retailing Association (ASTRA) is an international not-for-profit trade organization that serves more than 1,800 independent retailers, manufacturers and sales representatives in the specialty toy industry. ASTRA is a community of dedicated professionals committed to providing children with healthy, quality play materials that have high play value and are designed with a focus on what the child can do, rather than what the toy can do. ASTRA members are leaders who, through their businesses, make a positive impact on the economy and culture of the communities they serve. For more information, visit www.astratoy.org.
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