"Omnichannel," the seamless blending of bricks and mortar with online shopping, has been a buzzword this year, Zahn said.
Big-box retailers are "using their stores as distribution centers," Zahn noted. A grandma in Topeka, Kan., can now order a doll that Sally's dad can pick up at a Walmart or Target in Tallahassee, Fla.
Without the resources of the big players, the 740 independent retailers or local chains that are members of ASTRA have had to improvise, Warfield said.
"They've upped the game with their websites and online selling," Warfield said. "Many are now offering online local delivery and curbside pickup."
But some retailers will close permanently, Gottlieb predicted.
"Unfortunately, many toy stores are old school. Some don't even have an online presence," said Gottlieb.
Manufacturers like Froggy's Lair are helping retailers out with custom videos and targeted pay-per-click campaigns.
"We're coming up with some really creative ways to support our sales reps and retailers with prepackaged social media content," Walters said.
At Fat Brain Toys, sales through the company's website have nearly doubled this year, Carson said. Meanwhile, sales to small stores have straggled.
Including all channels, the 60-person company has annual sales topping $50 million, Carson said. The 18-year-old company specializes in low-tech preschool and STEM offerings and multigenerational games.
Far Out's Meggs sees gold in them thar hills.
"There's a great opportunity in all of this. At some point, people do tire of the old and I think there's going to be quite a craving for the new," he said. "We're producing even more concepts and more great ideas for products."
Founded in 2017 by a team of industry veterans, the vertically integrated company develops and manufactures its own intellectual property and products featuring such brands as NASCAR and 8-year-old YouTube superstar Ryan Kaji. Far Out also designs and manufactures house-branded toys for big retailers like Walmart, Meggs said.
The company has 600 injection molding machines at its factories in Dongguan, China, and Hanoi, Vietnam.
Far Out has had to make its way in a post-Toys R Us world. The now-bankrupt behemoth provided an unusually accepting landing spot for new products and companies, Meggs said.
"We have had to cater to the majors from the start," he said.
In less than a week in March, the 22-year-old Crazy Aaron's Enterprises pivoted to making the season's must-have product: hand sanitizer.
"We have to keep people busy, keep things moving," said Muderick, who points with pride to his 80-plus staff, including workers with special needs.
Three months later, when Pennsylvania lifted its lockdown, the company transitioned back to making silicone rubber-based putty. Lesson learned on the value of diversification, though: The company recently launched a product line of colorful foaming soaps, delivered in a plastic bottle, that encourages kids to scrub.
"We have good initial orders" for Crazy Aaron's Clean With Color, Muderick reports.