Speakers

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Kirsten Anderson

c5f79576-4965-4abe-a95a-d72c9c17a8af.jpgPlay Through the Ages!
Sunday, June 10, 2018
10:15am-11:30am


Kirsten Anderson’s career has always followed the fun! She spent 25 years in the specialty toy industry managing and then opening her own toy store before age 30. Kirsten quickly became known as Canada’s white lab coat wearing Toyologist, and the go-to resident play & toy expert on Global News.

After travelling the world from Nuremberg to Melbourne in search of precious playthings, winning National Toy Store of the Year, a ballooning obsession with pouring over child development and play research it was time for a leap. Kirsten sold her beloved toy store and took another risk with an evolved mission of bringing the benefits of play to not just children but adults who she sees also experiencing a serious play and fun deficit – especially at work.

With this lifelong love of playing with ideas and problems Kirsten played to her strengths to create social change and unlock potential in teams founding Integrate Play Solutions. Engagement and creativity are foundations in all of her Lego® Serious Play® and Empathy Toy facilitations, professional speaking, training and coaching organizations, education, and communities globally. For those companies interested in increasing their bottom line Kirsten speaks to Creativity/Innovation, Leadership, Curiosity, Culture, and the Playful Mindset.
Always a passionate advocate of play for children while also breaking down barriers to playfulness for adults Kirsten is building bridges to success one fun block at a time.

Lindsay Anvik

c5f79576-4965-4abe-a95a-d72c9c17a8af.jpgWow Merchandising: 100+ Examples to Drive Sales
Sunday, June 10, 2018
1:00pm-2:00pm

Lightning Learning: Top 3 Merchandising Tips

Monday, June 11, 2018
1:00pm-1:15pm

Tuesday, June 12, 2018
 1:00pm-1:15pm

                                                                          Consultation Station: Merchandising
                                                                          Monday, June 11, 2018
                                                                          Tuesday, June 12, 2018
                                                                          Register for your 30 minute session now!

Lindsay Anvik is a fourth generation entrepreneur. She travels the world giving seminars and working with everyone from mom and pop businesses to Fortune 500 companies to major museums. Her marketing and business development strategies that have led to coverage in the New York Times, InStyle Magazine, The New York Post, Metro New York and many others. She's also been featured several times as a business expert on MSNBC.

Adrienne Appell

c5f79576-4965-4abe-a95a-d72c9c17a8af.jpgOpenSpace: Toy Trend Spotting
Sunday, June 10, 2018
10:15am-11:30am


As the Toy Industry Association’s (TIA) trend specialist, Adrienne Appell maintains close communication with representatives of TIA’s member toy companies to stay abreast of what’s new, next and cutting-edge in the toy industry. She also publishes articles on trends in parallel industries that may influence the toy and youth space.

Adrienne is interviewed frequently by national and local consumer and business media on toy trends and related topics. She is also responsible for developing and maintaining relationships with the media, including bloggers and other social media contacts. In addition to regular reports on local New York-metro area networks, her media interviews include Good Morning America, WABC-TV, WCBS-TV, WNBC-TV, Good Day New York (FOX), NY-1, Reuters, the Chicago Tribune and The New York Times.

Adrienne has more than 10 years of experience in the toy/youth industry. Prior to joining TIA, she worked in the corporate communications division of Scholastic, Inc.  Adrienne began her career at the global public relations agency Weber Shandwick, working on client accounts such as Kodak, Disney, and Compaq computers.

Adrienne lives in Hoboken, NJ with her husband and two young children.

Jean Bailey

c5f79576-4965-4abe-a95a-d72c9c17a8af.jpgTheorists, Thought Leaders & Thinking Behind the Value of Play
Sunday, June 10, 2018
1:00pm-2:00pm

OpenSpace: The Aging PopulationSunday, June 10, 2018
3:30-4:30pm

Jean Bailey is a consultant to the toy industry and former director of the National Lekotek Center, a non-profit that works with children of all abilities utilizing toys and play. For the last decade she has promoted, studied, written articles and white papers and reviewed research on toys and play as it relates to child development. Bailey has presented on the subject of toys and play internationally and brings with her years of experience in marketing, communications and adult education.







Kevin Carroll

c5f79576-4965-4abe-a95a-d72c9c17a8af.jpgYou Lost Me at Hello
Sunday, June 10, 2018
2:15pm-3:15pm



Having grown up in a large Irish Catholic family, Kevin Carroll was destined to make his livelihood by talking. After 17 years in the advertising business (he got out on account of good behavior), Kevin launched his own speaking, training and executive coaching business. Today his passion is helping his clients communicate clearly, concisely and confidently. Companies such as GE, Microsoft, and Heineken have been tapping into Kevin’s expertise for over 20 years. He is a past-president of the Connecticut chapter of the National Speakers Association and during his career has written three books and fathered two children.

In 2010, Kevin teamed up with Steve Mark, a friend from his advertising days, to see if they could come up with a new game. The result was TENZI.

Sarah Fowles & Matthew Poulson

c5f79576-4965-4abe-a95a-d72c9c17a8af.jpgWe Are Family: Inspiring the Entrepreneurial Spirit in Your Family Business
Sunday, June 10, 2018
1:00pm-2:00pm


Sarah Fowles, CPE, is co-owner of the toy store Ruckus & Glee, LLC in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin. By day she is a licensed attorney and Human Resources Consultant with Associated Benefits and Risk Consulting, where she distills the complexity of employment laws into
understandable action items that meet a client’s business goals. By night and weekend, she is Ruckus & Glee’s marketing and PR director, trend specialist, bookkeeper, and special events manager.

Matthew Poulson, CMR, is the co-founder of the toy store Ruckus & Glee, LLC in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin. He handles all aspects of the store’s day-to-day business operations, including customer service, staff management, product receiving and merchandising, and accounts payable. Prior to opening Ruckus & Glee, he had a career in theater and nonprofit management.

Brett Hall & Melanie Hall

c5f79576-4965-4abe-a95a-d72c9c17a8af.jpgWe Are Family: Inspiring the Entrepreneurial Spirit in Your Family Business
Sunday, June 10, 2018
1:00pm-2:00pm


Melanie Hall, Chief Accountability Officer and Muse at Hall of Toys. A dietitian for Kellogg Company by day, Melanie spends many evenings and weekends on projects reflecting her organization, training, marketing, and event planning skills cultivated from many years of work in both the public health and food marketing sector. Melanie entered the toy industry with the opening of Hall of Toys alongside her husband Brett in 2015. Melanie helps with digital communications, website maintenance, layout and design of their holiday gift guides, and dreaming up business development and public relations ideas. Melanie and Brett raise their two boys in Battle Creek Michigan. In her free time, Melanie is an amateur triathlete, foodie, and an avid fan of naps.

Brett Hall, CMR, is the founder and Manager of Fun at Hall of Toys in Battle Creek, MI. In a prior life, he worked for six years at, then was general manager for, a specialty bicycle store where he spent most of each paycheck. Since this store was in Davis, CA, otherwise known as Bike Town, USA, it focused on bikes for the whole family and especially kids, not enthusiast riders. Before that, Brett was an all-around worker at a canoe/kayak rental spot that featured a kids’ education program, his favorite part of the job. In high school, he coached and ran a youth track & field program. Just prior to opening Hall of Toys, Brett spent four years working for a 60+ year old local toy store before the owners retired and he decided to start his own. This is a very long way of saying that he does not want to add up the number of years he has been working with kids and teaching them about things that would make them better adults, so you can do the math if you want. He knows that kids are the future, so we should give them the tools they will need to make it a better place for themselves and future generations.

Maggie Held

c5f79576-4965-4abe-a95a-d72c9c17a8af.jpgBarefoot in the Pitch
Sunday, June 10, 2018
1:00pm-2:00pm


Maggie Lynn Held hails from a professional Theatre background. She performed at Opryland USA, Busch Gardens Theme Park,
A Cruise Line Overseas, Several Regional and Children’s Theatre Productions, just to name a few. Maggie hit the pavement in The Big Apple in early 97’. While in NY, Maggie starred in the first regional production of “Songs for A New World” and booked a bundle of
National and Regional Voice Over spots. Maggie also explored the world of Playwriting and Artisitc Directing. The excitement and joy of creating something from nothing began to overshadow the mainstage. In the fall of 2007 began the first developments of Scribfolio®
Back then the compny was called “Lil’ Abstracts LLC” . The concept was still the same but the approach was much more theatrical. Maggie’s vision was to produce an interactive coloring book where people could create a masterpiece from a simple Scribble,
“Look from every angle, What do you see? Now show me.” Maggie has spent several years in the wellness and hospitality industry. All of these technique and modalities have helped bring the Scribfolio® brand full circle. Maggie is thrilled to have the help and support of her friends and family as she introduces herself to the world once again, this time as an Entrepreneur. Maggie’s goal is to spark imaginations and spread creativity one Scribble at a time. The founder of Scribfolio®

Robyn Johnson

c5f79576-4965-4abe-a95a-d72c9c17a8af.jpgMaster the Marketplace: How Can Our Community Harness the Power of Amazon
Sunday, June 10, 2018
2:15pm-3:15pm



Robyn has been heralded as one of the country's foremost leaders on the topic of selling and marketing products on Amazon.com.  Robyn's is the founder of Best From The Nest a firm that works with resellers, brand owners, manufacturers, and authors to help them profitably scale or control their presence on Amazon.

Robyn Johnson started with only $100 and in less than four years grew her business to the seven-figure mark in eCommerce. She has authored an Amazon best-selling book, "The Unlikely Entrepreneur: How I Transformed $100 into a seven-figure business."

Additionally, Robyn has a popular podcast, "The Unstoppable Entrepreneur Show with Robyn Johnson."' She is also Vice President of the non-profit Internet Merchants Association.

Rieva Lesonsky

c5f79576-4965-4abe-a95a-d72c9c17a8af.jpgThe Changing Toy Market: Who's Buying & How to Reach Them
Sunday, June 10, 2018
10:15am-11:30am

Rieva Lesonsky is cofounder and CEO of GrowBiz Media, a custom content creation company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship, and the blog SmallBizDaily.com. A nationally- known speaker, best-selling author, and authority on entrepreneurship, Lesonsky has been covering America’s entrepreneurs for more than 30 years. Previously, Lesonsky was the long-time Editorial Director of Entrepreneur magazine.

Greg Manns

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Performance Data: Gauging the Independent Toy Industry
Sunday, June 10, 2018
10:15am-11:30am



Mr. Manns is a Senior Vice President of Industry Insights, Inc., headquartered in Dublin, Ohio.

Mr. Manns has conducted or overseen more than 300 research projects during his tenure at Industry Insights. Over the past 20+ years, his studies have been cited in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, USA Today, and numerous association journals.  

Mr. Manns is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA), Chartered Global Management Accountant (CGMA), and Certified Information Technology Professional (CITP). He is an active member of the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) and the Ohio Society of CPAs (OSCPA). He received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Business Management from Earlham College, Richmond, Indiana.

Craig Melby

c5f79576-4965-4abe-a95a-d72c9c17a8af.jpgLightning Learning: 5 Vital Lease Terms for Today’s Times
Monday, June 11, 2018
12:00-12:15pm
Tuesday, June 12, 2018
12:00-12:15pm

Consultation Station: Lease Negotiation
Monday, June 11, 2018
Tuesday, June 12, 2018
Register for your 30 minute session now!

Craig Melby's core mission is helping companies prosper by picking the best facilities and negotiating the best, most flexible lease terms. He has been a Lease Negotiator, Site Selector, Speaker, Author and Entrepreneur for 35+ years. Mr. Melby’s companies provide unmatched resources and advice for facility expansions, relocations, lease extensions and other Facility/Landlord issues.

Mr. Melby has been in commercial real estate industry for more than 30 years and holds the industry’stop designation: Certified Commercial Investment Member (CCIM).

Ellen Metrick

c5f79576-4965-4abe-a95a-d72c9c17a8af.jpgSafe Play: Human Factors' Impact on Toy Safety 
Sunday, June 10, 2018
2:15pm-3:15pm



Ellen Metrick has been an active participant in the toy industry for 30 years. She has consulted with and worked for major toy manufacturers and retailers on toy design and quality from initial concept through post-production. She has created systems to research and evaluate toys’ impact on childhood development and their therapeutic value for children with special needs. She has written extensively for companies' websites, blogs, parent guides, package inserts and has had regular columns on creative applications for toys and play for such magazines as EdPlay, Educational Dealer, ASTRA, Parenting Special Needs and Chicago Special Parent.  She currently is a Human Factors Specialist with UL, LLC, providing safety risk assessments on children’s products through the lens of child development. With a background in special education, she has spent her career focused on how toys and play impact development for all children. She is a member of ASTRA, Toy Association, and Women in Toys.

Patricia Norins

c5f79576-4965-4abe-a95a-d72c9c17a8af.jpg60 Innovative Marketing Ideas in 60 Minutes
Sunday, June 10, 2018
10:15am-11:30am


Patricia Norins has spent the past 25 years inspiring companies to utilize innovative marketing techniques to grow their sales and profits. She is the founder of two retail industry publications, Specialty Retail Report and Gift Shop. She has also launched and built successful retail conferences around the world including SPREE, the world’s largest show for the specialty retail industry.  Norins’ prior business was ranked in Inc. Magazine’s list of fastest growing companies.  In addition, Norins served as spokesperson for American Express's Small Business Saturday.  She is regularly quoted in newspapers across the country including the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Chicago Tribune, and LA Times as an authority in specialty retail.  Through her seminars, publications, training and websites, Norins has helped thousands of businesses to grow through creative and impactful marketing strategies.

Michael Palmisano

c5f79576-4965-4abe-a95a-d72c9c17a8af.jpgGrowing Your Own Geeks: How Game Culture Keeps Customers in Your Store
Sunday, June 10, 2018
1:00pm-2:00pm


It all began as my young wife and I were creating materials for her classroom. For months we would craft toys and other teaching aids for her first year as a teacher. We soon decided that we would gladly purchase healthy products for “her kids”, even though we were newlyweds and broke. The discussion then turned into a dream of owning a toy store of our own, which came to fruition a few years later. One store turned into two and that was our passion and joy for 17 years.

Once we became parents of a child with Down syndrome, we had to change gears and we sold one store and closed the other. I moved into the board game world where my position was District Manager for Uncle’s Games. I oversaw building, managing and staffing a small chain on the west side of Washington state. Now I work as the National Sales director for Calliope Games, a publisher of family friendly games that are ideal for the ages when children move beyond traditional kid’s games. I love this field and consider myself incredibly fortunate to have spent the majority of my career with like minded people who believe in the future of our children!

Megan Philpott

c5f79576-4965-4abe-a95a-d72c9c17a8af.jpgThe Power of Play: An Interactive Experience
Sunday, June 10, 2018
1:00pm-2:00pm


Megan grew up a Hoosier in the great state of Indiana. With a background in early childhood education, she has seen it all. Through college she worked as a substitute teacher at the middle school level and later as a teacher in a daycare setting where she had the opportunity to lead a class in each of the different age groups (birth-5). It was in the daycare setting that Megan truly fell in love with and began to understand the power of play. After working in the position of Assistant Director in that daycare for a period of time, a change of pace for Megan’s life was needed and she became a personal nanny to a family with three little girls under the age of six. Here she was able to see even more the benefits of play for young children. Over the next few years Megan had the opportunity to learn through and experience lots of different children in lots of different settings at play. Eventually she landed in a small toy store in downtown Franklin, IN where she was really able to spread her creative wings. It was here that the play class program that she holds so dear to her heart really took form.

Megan now has been with that same toy store (Toodleydoo Toys) for three and a half years and has also added the title of Preschool Director at Victory Christian Preschool to her list of accomplishments. Megan and her husband, Adam, live in downtown Franklin, IN with their Jack Russell, Oliver, and urban farm. Teaching, play, art, and a good podcast are things that keep her creative spirit alive.

Peter Reynolds

c5f79576-4965-4abe-a95a-d72c9c17a8af.jpgCertified Play Experts Present: Become a Community Resource Center
Sunday, June 10, 2018
2:15pm-3:15pm



Peter’s first exposure to toys came in 1972 when he entered the toy industry, then later he spent 26 years as the President of BRIO US Corporation, the US subsidiary of BRIO of Sweden. The business grew exponentially ultimately growing to a top line sales in the mid-eight figures. BRIO’s core marketing philosophy was  built on Peter’s deep-rooted belief in the importance of play and therefore the need for good toys and a strong distribution network of specialty retailers. All marketing and promotional communication was focused on demonstrating the power of play and the subsequent empowerment and enrichment of the child

Peter was the driver of the very successful Wooden Railway system and it was BRIO who introduced the first demo tables, the first staff and consumer training Good Toy Workshops and the first in store Playdays.

After leaving BRIO  Peter consulted with two start-up companies: Think Like a Genius and Aha! Corporation, both involved in developing human potential and then helped to set up the US distribution of Hape Inc. becoming the General Manager for North America in March 2005.

Now with HABA USA Peter is still extremely passionate about the Good Play, Good Toys and the importance of the Specialty Retailer because they remain the only true motivators and communicators of the critical nature of play. He embraces leading edge research on child development and uses it in all his communication aspects of the HABA. 

Debbie Scholl

c5f79576-4965-4abe-a95a-d72c9c17a8af.jpgRetail Math 101: What You Need to Know to Survive & Thrive 
Sunday, June 10, 2018
2:15pm-3:15pm



Owner/President of Fundamentally Toys in Houston Texas, established 1995.

Started retail career in 1976, working for Federated Department Stores in Cincinnati and Houston.  Worked in buying offices and financial management for May Company in the 1980’s.  Managed a wine boutique for several years before opening Fundamentally Toys in 1995.

Joined ASTRA in 1994 and has served as the Astra chair and in various committees.  Presented at numerous Astra conventions with solid reviews for providing useful, interesting information to help retailers improve their performance.

Retiring soon to Asheville North Carolina and hopes to continue working to help independent retailers compete in today’s changing marketplace.

Thom Singer

c5f79576-4965-4abe-a95a-d72c9c17a8af.jpgThe Paradox of Potential 
Sunday, June 10, 2018
2:15pm-3:15pm

Thom Singer has an eclectic background working in sales, marketing and business development roles for Fortune 500 Companies, Law Firms, and entrepreneurial ventures.  He believes that all opportunities come from people, and when we work together to find “cooperative significance” with others we all discover more success.  

Singer is a professional master of ceremonies, speaker, trainer, consultant and the author of twelve books on the power of business relationships, business development, entrepreneurship, sales, legal marketing and presentation skills.  He speaks regularly at business and association conferences around the United States and beyond.

He is also the host of the widely popular “Cool Things Entrepreneurs Do” podcast.  On this show he interviews entrepreneurs, solopreneurs, and business leaders from a variety of industries.  He encourages his guests to share tips and ideas that can help those with an “entrepreneurial spirit” find their own path toward success.

Thom and his wife, Sara, make their home in Austin, Texas and are the parents of two highly spirited daughters.

Paul Sunderland

c5f79576-4965-4abe-a95a-d72c9c17a8af.jpgBuilding the Right Succession Plan 2.0
Sunday, June 10, 2018
1:00pm-2:00pm

Strategic Planning Made Simple
Sunday, June 10, 2018
2:15pm-3:15pm

Paul has been a lawyer and business consultant for almost forty years.  He advises clients and lectures widely to industry, trade and government groups on a variety of issues of interest to businesses including business startups, business and asset valuation, financing, contracts, the purchase and sale of businesses, as well as strategic and succession planning. 

Paul is a graduate of Transylvania University in Lexington, KY where he received a B.A. in economics with highest honors and of the University of Pennsylvania Law School in Philadelphia, PA where he served as editor of the law review. 

In addition to working with businesses, Paul advises county governments on a variety of legal matter and he and his wife have operated a number of successful retail businesses as well as completing the revitalization of the historic Story Block Building, a century old mixed use project in Ouray, Colorado. 

Catherine Swanwick

c5f79576-4965-4abe-a95a-d72c9c17a8af.jpgOpenSpace: STEM
Sunday, June 10, 2018
2:15pm-3:15pm



Dr. Swanwick earned her Ph.D. in Neuroscience from the University of Virginia after receiving her B.S. in Biology from Duke University. She performed eight years of neuroscience research, mainly at the National Institutes of Health.  In 2015, she co-founded Catlilli Games, a tabletop STEM game company.  She is also a Biology teacher at Fauquier High School.

Brian Turtle

c5f79576-4965-4abe-a95a-d72c9c17a8af.jpgOpenSpace: Community & In-Store Events Sunday, June 10, 2018
10:15am-11:30am


Having a “happy accident” lead to a twenty-year career in the toy industry isn’t what Brian Turtle everexpected, but it’s exactly what happened. In 1994 Brian and some college friends created the popular“Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon” game. A board game soon followed, which was one of the originalproducts at Endless Games. After demoing his own game at several trade shows and store events, Brianstarted “officially working” at Endless Games in 1997 and has served as their National Sales Manager forover fifteen years. As his family grew, so did Brian’s appreciation for games as a great “unplugged”platform for human connection. He’s passionate about toys, games, and family; and considers himself lucky to work in an industry where the focus is FUN!

Phil Wrzesinski

c5f79576-4965-4abe-a95a-d72c9c17a8af.jpgGetting Your Customers to Talk (About You!)
Sunday, June 10, 2018
1:00pm-2:00pm

Profit Margin is Not Your Only Money Maker 
Sunday, June 10, 2018
2:15pm-3:15pm

Phil Wrzesinski is the former President and Owner of Toy House and Baby Too in Jackson, Michigan, one of America’s largest and oldest independent toy and baby stores named one of the 25 Best Independent Stores in America in the book Retail Superstars by George Whalin.

Phil uses what he learned in a lifetime of retail to help other independent retailers and small businesses with their Advertising, Pricing, Inventory Management, Customer Service, Hiring and Staff Trainings. His business presentations are always fun & informative, and full of useful tips you can implement right away. His first book, “Hiring and the Potter’s Wheel: Turning Your Staff Into a Work of Art” is helping all types of businesses improve the quality of their staff.

Phil is the proud father of two boys and helps expectant fathers get off to a good start in their fatherhoods through a highly-touted class he teaches at the local hospital called “Babies 101: The Basics for New Dads”.

Phil also writes for several retail magazines and has a popular blog on retailing at www.PhilsForum.com.