CHICAGO, Nov. 10, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- "Local" is the way to go these days, as more consumers come to understand that locally sourced products help protect the environment and support the community. But buying locally sold products can make a difference, too. This holiday season, consumers everywhere can support their communities by shopping local stores for the best and unique holiday toys to help them win the "best gift-giver award" among their loved ones. In return, those independent neighborhood toy stores support parents, grandparents and other gift-givers with expert advice on encouraging creative play among the children in their lives.
Saturday, November 12 marks the seventh national Neighborhood Toy Store Day, an annual celebration in which independent toy shops kick off the holiday season with special events to introduce consumers to the benefits of shopping local. The events include child-friendly activities such as face painting, craft projects, live performances and more. 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.