Indie Retailers to Celebrate Neighborhood Toy Store Day

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On Neighborhood Toy Store Day, this Saturday, November 8, American Specialty Toy Retailing Association (ASTRA) members — including BookSmart in Morgan Hill, California, and Givens Books & Little Dickens in Lynchburg, Virginia — will be celebrating the joy of play and the importance of shopping locally with in-store parties and other festivities.

“Neighborhood Toy Store Day started as a way to get some attention for stores with consumers right before the holidays,” said ASTRA President Kathleen McHugh. “There’s a day for everything, and we thought this was a great way to get attention for our retailers promoting good play, good toys, and the value of shopping local.”

Held the second Saturday in November, Neighborhood Toy Store Day shines the spotlight on hometown specialty toy retailers and engages customers in supporting their communities by shopping locally. The inaugural event was held in 2010, and this year more than 300 ASTRA members plan to participate.

BookSmart co-owner Brad Jones is looking forward to Neighborhood Toy Store Day. “I think it is a great kickoff for the holiday season and our customers seem to really enjoy it,” he said.

Customers visiting BookSmart on November 8 will be treated to a showcase of favorite toys, games, puzzles, and other hands-on activities for children. A leprechaun coin hunt will give participants a chance to redeem coins for a free ice cream cone and other prizes.

“We have done this the last few years, and it is really fun and raises awareness of the store at a time when the rest of the media is focused on Black Friday and all the craziness that revolves around that,” said Jones. “It really is a pleasure to be the anti-big-box store and do something that has real meaning.”

In Virginia, Givens Books & Little Dickens will be drawing attention to its Neighborhood Toy Store Day celebrations with a large ad in the local paper, a press release announcing its events, a store banner and fliers, and a sign on the marquee out front.

This year the store will be putting a greater emphasis on the event. “I think this year could be really different for us and will serve to get real attention for us as a neighborhood store,” said owner Danny Givens.

The store will host outdoor games and toys, an indoor game table, and a clown making balloon animals. Customers will be treated to discounts on games and puzzles, and a coupon will earn patrons 20 percent off items in the store. A special display and fliers will highlight last year’s top award-winning toys.

McHugh noted that a number of ASTRA members “go all out” for Neighborhood Toy Store Day, with participation ranging “from just a poster in the window to having all-day activities, having inventors in the store, even authors in to read.” Surveys from previous years indicate that retailers who celebrate the day experienced an increase in both sales and visibility in their communities.

In order to make participating as easy as possible, ASTRA members are offered customizable press releases, online marketing tools, social media posts, post cards, ad slicks, and e-marketing templates.

This year, ASTRA stores can sign up for the Shop for Good campaign, run by actor Kevin Bacon’s organization, Six Degrees. Through the campaign, customers at participating stores can select a charity or school to receive a portion of their purchase total. Stores can also create their own customized commercial featuring Kevin Bacon.

“The day is not just about shopping for our stores, it’s really about showing the community the value of play, reminding them they have a choice of where they spend their shopping dollars, and that shopping locally returns so much more to the community,” said McHugh.