Over 70 years ago, a Washington DC baby furniture retailer opened. This business would later grow into a megalithic toy and general children’s product retail giant, Toys ‘R’ Us. Spreading across the US and eventually the world, Toys ‘R’ Us for a time became known as the place to go for all the best-selling toys one could ever want. Its predominance, which led to the decline of smaller community toy stores, would eventually collapse following the rise of mass merchants and online marketplaces. Eventually the retailer filed for bankruptcy and closed stores in the US and a few other countries, though it would shoulder on in several other markets, biding time for a possible return.
That time was realized this week as told by CNN. The first new US store of Toys ‘R’ Us was opened this Wednesday, November 27, at the Westfield Garden State Plaza in Paramus, New Jersey. This came close to a year now, ever since the once-bankrupt toy retail brand finally recovered in January 2019, under the renamed parent company Tru Kids Brands. Earlier inroads towards opening new branded TRU stores to replace the ones closed last year were materialized in the “Geoffrey’s Toy Box” store-within-a-store.
Speaking of which, Toys ‘R’ Us mascot Geoffrey the Giraffe was himself present during the opening of the new store at Paramus during the ribbon cutting ceremony. He then led the guests and potential shoppers to a tour of the interior, and the first peek at the new sales model being implemented by Tru Kids. The store is understandably smaller than the previous branches that closed during their bankruptcy period. Also gone are the massive stocks of toys, leaving only a few products on the shelves and a variety of “toy experience” displays. The store however has tech facilities for shoppers to order their desired products online via TRU’s website.
As Tru Kids President and CEO Richard Barry explains, the new approach for the rebirth of Toys ‘R’ Us stores was not to stuff as many quantities of products in a branch and wait until they are either sold out or languish in storage. This time, there are few physical toys to buy inside, but hands-on areas allowing children and parents to try out toys will ideally increase their chances to buy. “This store has about 1,500 items, but through the technology in the store, you can buy over 15,000 items today,” notes Barry regarding the store’s online purchase technology.
Tru Kids is planning to pace its return to the US market carefully. The New Jersey TRU store is but one of two in this first wave, with a second opening sometime soon in Texas.
Image from Fox 5 DC