American Specialty Toy Retailing Association

astra academy

Certified Master Retailer.

Welcome to the Certified Master Retailer program. This program is designed to give you tools to use and help you be successful in owning and operating a specialty toy store.
Requirements to enroll:
  • Must be a retailer
  • Must be currently employed within a retail store for 6 months or greater and/or actively own a retail store
  • Each candidate must have their own email address to access the program (contact ASTRA if you need to be added your organizations' roster)
The tracks and courses may be taken in any order.

Member Rate: $149
Non-Member Rate: $699

Testing: To receive the certificate, candidates are required to pass the tests within the track. A candidate has 3 attempts to pass the test with 80% or greater*. This test may be taken before or after the course. All the tests consist of 10 multiple choice questions and relate to the content within the course.

 

  • Business & Finance Track

    Learn the business basics.

    This course covers topics such as:

    • Budgeting
    • Types of Revenue
    • Fixed Expenses
    • Variable Expenses
    • Purchases
    • Calculating Cash Margins

    This course should give you a basic understanding of the above topics. Check out the handouts page to access the side deck and supplimental documents.

    This course covers topics such as:

    • Initial Mark up
    • Planned IMU
    • Sell Through %
    • Turn
    • Stock to Sales Ratio
    • Gross Margin Return on Investment


    This course should give you a basic understanding of the above topics. Check out the handouts page to access the side deck and supplemental documents.

    One of the greatest challenges facing a closely-held business is properly planning for business succession. Business owners may be too busy dealing with everyday business needs to consider the tough issues of succession planning such as:

    • Who will be the next operations manager?
    • Which of the children will get involved in the business?
    • Who is the next owner of my business?
    • What is my business worth?

    The list of issues that business owners should consider is lengthy. Where do you begin? Join us for an in-depth discussion and key tips to get you started down the right path. We have been able to help many small business owners around the US prepare for the future

    Do you worry about negotiating with vendors? Do you feel like your business isn't big enough to get better pricing, better terms, and more from your vendors? In this webinar, Dan Jablons of Retail Smart Guys will guide you through the process of dealing with vendors so you can successfully negotiate all you need for your store. In this informative webinar, you'll learn:
    • Successful negotiating tips
    • How to open new vendors
    • How to generate excitement in working with you
    • How to evaluate vendor performance
    • How to use the vendor's performance to get more for your store

    Site Selection and Lease Negotiation expert Craig Melby discusses the Top 10 Mistakes companies make when negotiating their lease. Attendees will learn how to make massive improvements to the standard Landlord lease, saving money and reducing risk.

  • Merchandising Track

    This course covers merchandising as it relates to your store.

    Your customers rate your “performance” every time they come in contact with you and your store. Their critique starts with what they see, hear and experience. There is a direct reflection between your visual merchandising and your brand identity. Explore strategies for effective store merchandising, first impressions, store layout, productivity of space, importance of signage, effective displays and the emotional connection through your customers' senses are all part of the retail stage.

    Do the words "retail math" make you sweat? Do you believe you can buy "by the seat of your pants" and stay in business? The truth is, successful retailers analyze, understand and make their numbers work for them because they “measure what matters”. Being prepared before you go to market is critical. This session will show you how to manipulate your pricing and you'll see how a buying plan is created without computer software! Planning stocks, sales, reductions turnover and open-to-buy with a focus on classification control will put you in a "never fear" attitude when it comes to retail math. You will see how to manipulate profit variables that will give you the tools to provide more to your bottom line.

    Understanding the "5 Rights of Product Forecasting" and how they affect your open-to-buy and eventually your ROI is the goal of this session. Strategic buying techniques center around knowing who your customer is, what they want, and how to attract them, engage them and motivate them to buy. Buying merchandise is a skill that needs to be honed. It's not just about enjoying the hunt of the merchandise for your toy store, it is about timing, delivery options, classification control, vendor performance, inventory management and creating events that bring the customer back. But let me remind you, having a great selection of merchandise is nothing without a well trained staff!

    Don't you want your customers to stop, look and buy at every turn in your store? In order to create captivating displays it is important to incorporate the basic elements of good design. Can you name them? Do you know how to implement them? In this session we will:

    •Discover the basics of good design.

    •Determine the techniques needed for effective use of shelving and endcaps.

    •Realize how the correct merchandising of walls and cash wraps can increase sales.

    •Experience how free standing displays, movement and technology significantly add to the customer experience.

    The goal of any store should be to create that important experience for the customer that showcases merchandise and is a feast for their senses!

  • Marketing Track

    Take a look at the best practices for marketing your store.

    This module will give you the tips and tools on how to successfully position your business and brand in the competitive marketplace through SWOT analysis, and SMART planning and developing the right marketing mix for your business.

    This module will help you develop brand promotional activity for maximum impact on your customer. You will gain a greater understanding of the different facets of promotions and how to best reach your target consumer.

    This module will help you develop digital tools and communications to have a greater impact on your customer. You will gain a greater understanding of the different digital media tools to help build your online and social media traffic.

    This module will help you identify, create and build the right community partners and programs for your business that best align with your customer.

  • Customer/Vendor Track

    Customer/Vendor Track

    The Retailer/Sales Rep Relationship

    Raising the Bar on Customer Service

    Becoming a Trust Advisor

    What is your company's “touchpoint score”? Are you aware of where you must put your focus to avoid any and all parts of your customer service falling through that lethal crack?

    In this session you will:

    Define what makes a “touchpoint” in your business and how to make them memorable, enviable and repeatable.

    Learn the skills required to consistently exceed your customer's expectations.

    Adopt a “service recovery process” that's more than an apology when things go wrong. Customer service is your defining advantage. It is the one main area that sets you apart from the competition. It is made up of countless touchpoints on a daily basis that inevitably create a “report card” in the customer's mind. Don't you need it to always be an A+?

    By taking a walk in your customer's shoes, you experience “their” journey and have a laser focus to fix the cracks along the way.

  • Technology Track

    An overview of key technologies for toy retailers

    In this Intro to Quickbooks course we'll discuss picking an accounting system and the differences between On Site and Cloud based systems. We'll also walk through creating a new Quickbooks company and the basics of using Quickbooks for your business.We will look at the basics such as creating a chart of accounts, creating customers and invoices, entering bills, reconciling bank accounts and more.

    In this course we'll explore some different options for integrating technology into your store. We'll also look at some software that will help you manage your business more effectively.

    In this course we'll discuss the basics of accepting credit cards in your store. We'll talk about typical fees and discuss what questions to ask when looking for a merchant provider.

  • Children & Play Track

    An overview of child development as it relates to play and toys.

    Join us as we provide an overview of the great minds in child development. Child developmental theorists include:

    • Jean Piaget
    • Lev Vygotsky
    • Lawrence Kohlberg
    • Sigmund Freud
    • Carl Jung
    • Howard Gardner
    • Erik Erikson
    This course will give you a birds eye view on their work on child development and how it has contributed to the way we think today.

    This course will cover development domains and stages such as:

    • Sensory
    • Cognitive
    • Communicative
    • Social/Emotional
    • Physical

    Each category will include an overview of the developmental domain and skills that are typically associated with each category. This information will be delivered in a format that is pertinent to retailers and the skills will be covered in language that is not clinical or therapeutic in nature.

    We will also cover how the developmental domains are interrelated as children build skills and advance milestones. Milestones develop in a sequential fashion. This means that a child will need to develop some skills before he or she can develop new skills. Each milestone that a child acquires builds on the last milestone developed. However physical skills like crawling and walking are paired with cognitive skills like sequential thought and memory and recall as kids advance motor planning skills.

    Developmental milestones are behaviors or skills that illustrate a child's growth in a number of areas. Milestones have been established based on what most children can do within a certain age.

    We will provide a brief overview of the developmental domains for each of the 6 age ranges of child development (birth-12 months, 12-24 months, 2 years old, 3 years old, 4-5 years old, 6-8 years old) along with the skills that are pertinent to that age range related to “readiness.” What is the child ready to learn?

    Play ideas and tips for parents/caregivers will be delivered related to the major milestone areas for each age range.

    Developmental delays exist when a child does not reach his/her milestones as other children the same age. All children develop at their own pace. Some children achieve their developmental milestones earlier and some later than other children. Some are able to speak earlier than others, but walk later. Some children skip certain milestones, for example bypassing crawling almost completely and proceeding directly to walking. There are many variations in child development.

  • Personnel Management/ Coaching Track

    Personnel Management/ Coaching Track

    In this course topics such as staffing recruitment, in-person interview process, interview techniques, background checks and basic employee on-boarding will be covered. This is a great way to get an overview of human resource principals to help aid in the hiring and firing process.

    Disclaimer

    The content covered in this training program is designed to provide an overview of Human Resource as it pertains to the small businesses of the specialty toy retailers industry. Please note that Human Resources , Accounting or Payroll may vary by state and should be carefully looked into prior to taking any human resources, employment, payroll or accounting actions. Due to the legal variances regarding size of business states and Federal requirements, ASTRA suggests that you review any decisions you make with your attorney. It is also suggested that you contact a Human Resource consultant to assist in these matters.

    In this course topics such as compensation planning and payroll. This will help you better understand specifics in state and federal laws that pertain to wages and payroll planning.

    Disclaimer

    The content covered in this training program is designed to provide an overview of Human Resource as it pertains to the small businesses of the specialty toy retailers industry. Please note that Human Resources , Accounting or Payroll may vary by state and should be carefully looked into prior to taking any human resources, employment, payroll or accounting actions. Due to the legal variances regarding size of business states and Federal requirements, ASTRA suggests that you review any decisions you make with your attorney. It is also suggested that you contact a Human Resource consultant to assist in these matters.

    In this course topics such as employee benefits and human resource administration. The specifics of this course will help you understand appropriate filing systems, benefits laws, and best practices.

    Disclaimer

    The content covered in this training program is designed to provide an overview of Human Resource as it pertains to the small businesses of the specialty toy retailers industry. Please note that Human Resources , Accounting or Payroll may vary by state and should be carefully looked into prior to taking any human resources, employment, payroll or accounting actions. Due to the legal variances regarding size of business states and Federal requirements, ASTRA suggests that you review any decisions you make with your attorney. It is also suggested that you contact a Human Resource consultant to assist in these matters.

    Want to develop a super hero team? Well this is the webinar for you. Join Phil as he leads you through how to create a stellar customer service team. This course will give you some great advise to make a differnece and stand out.

  • Final Survey & Application for Certificate

    Upon completion of program, please complete the survey. Staff will review your application and verify your certification.

    Upon completion of program, please fill out the survey. Staff will review your application and send your certificate in the mail.