Yes, Toys "R" Us is coming back and in a big way. The once-popular toy giant refuses to give up on its brand.
Just four years after bankruptcy and one year after a failed relaunch, the company is hoping to once again become every child's favorite place to buy toys. But what will be different this time?
Bankruptcy and failed relaunch before the pandemic
This resurrection comes four years after the company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy due to debt of $5 billion. It also comes one year after a failed relaunch of the brand. In its last relaunch, the store attempted to focus on smaller locations and interactive events that allowed children to play with toys before buying them.
The company even allowed families to host birthday parties at its stores. Still, this wasn't enough and it closed its stores again, citing the COVID-19 pandemic and the emergence of online shopping. Similarly, Payless Shoe Source, Gymboree, Lego, Mattel, and Hasbro have either filed for bankruptcy or faced immense financial struggles.
A new attitude and look for Toys "R' Us
Toys "R" Us CEO Yehuda Shmidman told USA Today that the store is “back in a mega way. This is going to be our largest format store in America.” In mid-December, a new 20,000 square foot flagship Toys "R" Us store will open in New Jersey's American Dream mall. The store will have a café, two-story slide, and ice cream parlor, and house over 10,000 toys. Through the opening, the company aims to make itself available for last-minute Christmas shopping.
American Dream CEO Don Ghermezian considers Toys "R" Us to be the “perfect addition” to the mall. USA Today noted that the store will be nestled next to attractions such as Nickelodeon Universe Theme Park and DreamWorks Water Park.
What makes this resurgence of Toys "R" Us different is that the company hopes to implement things that provide children with an experience, not just toys. GlobalData Retail managing director of consultancy Neil Saunders said, “Opening in American Dream is sensible as the mall will attract a lot of family shoppers who are potential customers. The evolution of the format to include things like experiences and an ice cream shop is on point as it gives people reasons to visit over and above simply buying products.”
Will Toys "R" Us survive this time?
Travel + Leisure reported that whereas there are still Toys "R" Us stores in 25 countries, the New Jersey location will be the first standalone flagship store in the U.S. Toys "R" Us will also be opening pop-up shops in 400 Macy’s locations next year. The company's CEO hopes things will be different this time around.
Shmidman told USA Today that the store is “back in a mega way." Whether the company's approach will make a difference is uncertain. But the company remains hopeful that providing an experience is the key to customer retention and revenue.