Toys r us off

Toys R Us comeback: New company’s first toy store now open and 10 more locations planned

Toys R Us’ comeback continued Wednesday with its first new U.S. bricks-and-mortar store.

A month after opening two “immersive toy wonderlands” called Toys R Us Adventure and 17 months after shuttering all stores, the iconic toy brand opened a retail store at Westfield Garden State Plaza in Paramus, New Jersey.

The 54-year-old brand has re-imagined the toy shopping experience for customers, said Richard Barry, chief executive of Tru Kids, which operates Toys R Us, during the space’s soft launch on Thanksgiving Eve. A grand opening is scheduled for Saturday with in-store events, giveaways and character visits.

“Historically, Toys R Us stores were 40,000-square-feet, large big box locations,” Barry said. “What we’ve looked to do here is completely re-imagine the shopping experience and the buying experience by really embracing experiential retailing.”

Barry said the company hopes to open 10 of its new concept stores over the next year. A second location is expected to open next week in Simon Property Group’s The Galleria in Houston.

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In February, former Toys R Us executives announced the start of Tru Kids Brands. In June, news spread that the company was looking to open a half dozen stores and a new e-commerce site ahead of holiday shopping.

The brand launched a new website in October, which features product reviews and videos. It directs shoppers to a buy button at Target.com to complete the purchase.

At 6,000 square feet, the new store is significantly smaller than the stores that closed in June 2018. The space also offers interactive play areas, propelling the toy giant into the world of experiential retail.

Instead of aisles of toys like traditional Toys R Us stores had, the spaces inside the shop are more deliberate: there are four branded areas on the right side of the shop where kids can test out certain toys.

“As you walk through this store, you’ll see that at every touch point there’s something for kids to get their hands on,” Barry said. “While we have lots of technology, one of the things that is very important to us is the fact that things are tactile.”

For instance, there’s a Nerf Gun area where kids can shoot at targets. In the Paw Patrol space, children can test out products at an activity table. At the Nintendo space, customers can test games, and at the Lego space kids can build a city.

Beyond toys, there are larger interactive experiences throughout the shop: Geoffrey’s Tree House, which children can climb to the top of to ring a bell; a Play-A-Round Theater with the popular lyrics “I don’t want to grow up, I’m a Toys ‘R’ Us Kid” plastered on its walls; and a “Magical Mirror” play pod where kids can interact with a 3D version of Geoffrey the Giraffe.

There’s also a life-size version of the mascot at the store’s entrance – a selfie photo opp several parents and children took advantage of.

The toy brand’s early return to New Jersey was a deliberate decision by Tru Kids, which is now based in Parsippany. The company wanted to have one of its first stores launch in the Garden State, said Barry, which he called the brand’s “heartland.”

“It was really important for us to be in New Jersey for one of our first stores,” Barry said.

Follow Kelly Tyko on Twitter: @KellyTyko

New Toys ‘R’ Us opens in Paramus before Black Friday

Black Friday just got a little bit brighter: Toys ‘R’ Us returned to retail Wednesday, opening a location at the Westfield Garden State Plaza mall in Paramus, New Jersey.

This marks the first new brick-and-mortar store for the famed toy franchise under its new ownership. The company filed for bankruptcy in 2017 and shuttered stores nationwide in 2018.

Mascot Geoffrey the Giraffe will preside at a ribbon-cutting ceremony before the store opens to the public at 10 a.m., according to NJ.com. The new Toys ‘R’ Us is located on the second floor of what’s hyped as New Jersey’s largest shopping mall.

In October, Toys ‘R’ Us reopened via its website — but when customers check out, they are redirected to what was once a competitor’s store: Target.com.

Tru Kids Brands, the parent company of Toys ‘R’ Us, acquired the chain’s remaining assets, and struck the deal to fulfill orders.

The Paramus retail location is one of the company’s two new “experiential” stores — the second is set to launch Dec. 1 in Houston, Texas.

Both locations will be about 6,500 square feet — a fraction of the brand’s former 30,000-square-foot big-box stores, Tru Kids CEO Richard Barry told the Associated Press earlier this year.

Barry, a former Toys ‘R’ Us executive, noted that more stores rolling out in the coming months will be about 10,000 square feet.

Target has been swiftly filling in the gaps Toys ‘R’ Us left behind when it liquidated. In New York, a Target is planned to replace both the former Toys ‘R’ Us and Babies ‘R’ Us spaces at the Caesar’s Bay Shopping Center in Gravesend, Brooklyn.

Marc Kalan, a marketing professor at Rutgers Business School, told NJ.com that Toys ‘R’ Us is fighting to find its niche.

“They’re creating an experiential-type place,” Kalan said. “A place where they’re inviting their former customers to come and experience toys, which is something that you can’t do with traditional outlets or online.”

Toys R Us is back. Here are the details

Toy’s R Us is back in the United States for the upcoming holiday shopping season, but you’ll have to look hard to find it.

What happened: The toy retailer recently opened up a store in Paramus, New Jersey, at the Westfield Garden State Plaza.

  • The new store comes with a tree house in side, a reading place and a movie theater, per News 12 New Jersey.
  • “This store has about 1,500 items, but through the technology in the store, you can buy over 15,000 items today,” Richard Barry, president and CEO of Tru Kids, told News 12 New Jersey.

Flashback: Toy’s R Us closed down more than 700 stores after it filed for bankruptcy two years ago, according to CNN.

The company announced in July that it planned to bring back some stores with a technology focus.

  • “Despite unprecedented efforts to capture the U.S. market share this past holiday season, there is still a significant gap and huge consumer demand for the trusted experience that Toys R Us and Babies R Us delivers,” said Richard Barry, president and CEO of Tru Kids Brands, in a statement. “We have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to write the next chapter of Toys R Us by launching a newly imagined omni channel retail experience for our beloved brands here in the U.S. In addition, our strong global footprint is led by experienced and passionate operating teams that are 100% focused on growth.”

One more note: Toy’s R Us mascot Geoffrey the Giraffe attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony. This marks Geoffrey big return to the franchise. He was last seen exiting one of the last stores of Toy’s R Us. He briefly appeared at a professional wrestling event before he was slammed with a steel chair.

Area shoppers won’t have to live without Toys”R”Us again this holiday season despite all stores closing last year.

The Toys”R”Us website recently relaunched with the toys and brands unique to the company. Target will fulfill all orders, through a partnership with Tru Kids Brands, the parent company to the Toys “R” Us brand.

On ToysRUs.com, holiday shoppers can click “Buy Now at Target.com” to be redirected to the same product on Target’s website. Target’s free two-day shipping, same-day curbside pickup, store order pickup, delivery with Shipt, new loyalty program and 5 percent savings for Target’s credit card holders will all apply on Toys “R” Us orders.

“RELATED: Kroger laying off hundreds of workers

“Target’s leadership in toys, digital and fulfillment are an unbeatable platform for Toys“R”Us to reconnect with their fans while we introduce them to the ease and convenience of shopping at Target,” said Nikhil Nayar, senior vice president of merchandising for Target. “By applying our capabilities in a new way with Toys“R”Us, we can serve even more toy shoppers, drive new growth, and build on our toy leadership.”

Target plans to test experiential retail stores in Texas and New Jersey later this fall. The stores will showcase toys out of the box.

“RELATED: Kroger laying off hundreds of workers

Last year Geoffrey’s Toy Box a division of Geoffrey LLC, which was a subsidiary of the bankrupt Toys “R” Us made a deal with Kroger to sell a small selection of Toys “R” Us exclusive toys in holiday displays.

Since the largest toy retailer closed store in June 2018, Miami Valley shoppers haven’t gone a holiday season without being able to find some selection of the merchandise.

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Brooklyn and her mom Sherri Allgood wore matching sweatshirts to commemorate the reason they left San Antonio at 6:30 a.m. and trekked to Houston: Toys R Us Galleria Mall, Dec. 7, 2019.

And underneath Brooklyn’s sweatshirt was a Geoffrey giraffe costume she’d worn for Halloween last year. The same year that 735 Toys R Us and Babies R Us stores were closed nationwide.

“When it went away, she mourned,” Sherri Allgood said of her 11-year-old daughter. “She was devastated. She studied why it went away. She learned about bankruptcy.”

The toy store has since been given another lease on life. And when the Allgoods learned its second U.S. location would open just 200 miles from their home, the duo was determined to be there.

On HoustonChronicle.com: Toys R Us returns to Houston with more interactive store

They joined hundreds of others who waited outside of the new Toys R Us store for its grand opening Saturday. Brooklyn met Richard Barry, the former chief merchandising officer of Toys R Us and current CEO of TRU Kids, a Parsippany, N.J. company that acquired the toy store’s intellectual property, while the store’s actual Geoffrey giraffe mascot took pictures with the non-hoofed patrons.

The first person lined up at 6 a.m., and Alicia Gachétt, 35, and her 11-year-old daughter Loryn joined the cue at 7:30 a.m. They used to live within walking distance of the Toys R Us on Westheimer, where Loryn was particularly fond of the Project Mc2 dolls that came with science experiments.

But on Saturday, Loryn wore her L.O.L. Surprise Queen Bee dress that has the doll’s head on the top and a bumble-bee striped skirt. She was selected to help cut the grand opening ribbon at 10 a.m., clutching scissors that were at least half her height with a boy who’d also been standing in line as the crowd counted down.

As the first 200 customers, both Loryn and her equally excited mother received a free 9-inch stuffed Geoffrey. These had been passed out by 10:20 a.m., and more than 500 customers had visited the store by 11:30 a.m.

“It definitely is very nostalgic to be here,” Alicia Gachétt said. “I was saying this is a great year for my childhood. First Disney+, then Toys R Us is back.”

“I missed Toys R Us,” Loryn said after exploring the store’s various offerings.

The new stores — the first one opened recently in New Jersey — are smaller and more interactive than the former stores, which averaged 40,000 square feet. The Galleria location is 6,473 square feet and carries only about 1,500 best-selling toys.

Children can climb a treehouse overlooking a reading nook with artificial grass, small benches and bookshelves. Toward the back of the store is a theater that can host birthday parties and toy events. Though kids are encouraged to play with toys throughout the entire store, and they can even ask staff to open and demonstrate products.

In the store’s Nintendo section, Brooklyn took photos of her mom pretending to jump out of the Mario franchise’s famous green pipe. Sherri Allgood liked that the store is bright and interactive.

“This one is really improved,” Brooklyn concurred.

Toys R Us general manager Elizabeth Lentz loves watching such interactions. She described the store as a place where families can create memories and adults can relive their childhoods.

“Right now, they’re experiencing a flashback,” Lentz said. “I can see it all over their faces.”

On HoustonChronicle.com: Retailers look to ‘wow’ toys to revive fortunes during holidays

Lentz grew up in rural Wisconsin and treasured the rare trips to Toys R Us when visiting her aunt in Madison, Wis. As an adult, she’s worked as a general manager at both Toys R Us and Babies R Us stores.

Her daughter, Isabelle, used to pretend she, too, worked at Toys R Us. Geoffrey was her favorite, and so it was difficult last year when Lentz had to explain that Geoffrey was gone.

Isabelle turned 6 on the day Toys R Us had a soft opening for friends and family. Lentz, who hadn’t told Isabelle about her new job, surprised her with Geoffrey.

“She was ecstatic,” Lentz said. “She was so happy.”

It was a sentiment shared by many store employees on Saturday, as roughly half of them are Toys R Us veterans.

This new store is an experience they previously wanted to create but knew the company couldn’t afford, as Toys R Us had billions of dollars of private equity debt that forced it to file for bankruptcy in 2017 before going out of business early last year.

“We watched our company fade away,” Lentz said. “And now, we’ve watched a new business model come to life. And seeing this many people in a toy store is fantastic.”

Staff writer Paul Takahashi contributed to this report.

Twitter.com/a_leinfelder

Welcome back, Toys R Us. Your market is tougher than ever.

This year’s holiday sales season marks the second without the big box version of Toys R Us. It could be even more important than the one before to secure market share and win over displaced Toys R Us shoppers looking for a new go-to shop for toys.

“We think right now it’s fluid, but that it will get less fluid over time and probably significantly less fluid after this holiday,” Jaysen Gillespie, head of analytics and data science for Criteo, said in an interview, referring to the retail market for toys.

He notes that shoppers were taken off guard by Toys R Us’ disappearance from the landscape in the summer of 2018. “Now this they’ve had the whole year to start to draw other preferences for where they get their toys,” Gillespie said. “And those preferences can be solidified by giving that customer an amazing Q4 experience.”

The fourth quarter, by far the most critical for the category, is likely to be dominated by the country’s largest retail players. Expect a heated battle among them, while other major players look to fill narrower roles.

However it shakes out, toy sales this year could set the pace for future holidays as retailers compete to step fully into the void left by Toys R Us.

The ghost of holidays past

Going into the holiday season of two years ago, Toys R Us had around 650 stores in the U.S. (excluding its stand-alone Babies R Us stores) and made nearly $1.4 billion in domestic toy sales.

The retailer was also in bankruptcy and on the ropes, outflanked on price and technology by the other leading toy retailers: namely Walmart, Target and Amazon. Woefully out-of-date IT technology also led to numerous operational problems, including during the Black Friday week.

Put simply, the most important holiday season for Toys R Us was a disaster. Its bankruptcy financiers pulled the plug and sent the company into liquidation the next year.

D.A. Davidson & Co. senior analyst Linda Bolton Weiser said that sales for the toy industry are starting to “normalize” after the disappearance of Toys R Us and are showing they can grow again. According to NPD Group, toy industry sales in the U.S. are set to decline modestly in 2019 and then pick up again in 2020 with growth to continue through the end of 2021.

“It was growing in double digits up until the Toys R Us bankruptcy. And this year, in 2019, they were flat.”

Linda Bolton Weiser

Senior Analyst at D.A. Davidson & Co.

While shoppers have moved on from the liquidation of Toys R Us, the full industry hasn’t quite yet. “Some of them are going under,” Weiser said. “I spoke to a private toy company recently. I won’t name names, but it was growing in double digits up until the Toys R Us bankruptcy. And this year, in 2019, they were flat. It’s very hard for them because they’re not going to be carried by the bigger guys.”

Jay Foreman, CEO of toymaker Basic Fun, says his company still hasn’t made up all of its sales lost from Toys R Us but expects to next year. Still, it’s a tougher world without the toy retailer.

“Life without TRU is like a tale of two toy industries,” Foreman said by email. “If are large or strong enough, you are surviving and moving on, leaning on Amazon to fill the gaps. If you are small and your lines are not strong enough, you are suffering.”

He added: “TRU was still the place to launch a product and get it on shelf. Target and Wal-Mart are not that easy to break into and Amazon has too many items to really launch product so it’s tough for the smaller guy to break in.”

The big three

Since Toys R Us collapsed, a wide range of retail has eyed the toy market in its absence. That includes the big three that stole Toys R Us’ market share for years, culminating in that calamitous 2017 Q4.

“The biggest players — Target, Walmart and Amazon — are the ones that took the 15% market share that was vacated,” Weiser said.

Profitero, a company that provides e-commerce performance analytics, found Walmart was the top destination for former Toys R Us shoppers. Of survey respondents who had previously bought from Toys R Us, 43% told Profitero in May they favored the retail giant, followed by Amazon (33% of respondents), Target (17%), specialty toy stores (6%) and other retailers (1%), according to an emailed report.

Those are the same players that dominated when Criteo found in November 2018 that Amazon was the main replacement source for toy and baby products among Toys R Us shoppers, followed closely by Walmart and Target.

The big toy sellers have only gotten bigger since then. Last year, Walmart, Target and Amazon all increased their toy assortment and added marketing bells and whistles to push the category. (Walmart, for example, launched an interactive digital “playground”; Amazon dropped a paper catalog.)

“I don’t think it’s settled yet in terms of who are the go-forward winners,” said Bill Lewis, a director with AlixPartners’ retail practice. “Of course, the bigger players — Amazon Target, Walmart — have the scale to compete for the larger big-box toy dollars.”

This year, each of those leading players is flexing its muscles in the market.

Walmart

With Toys R Us gone, Walmart has taken to calling itself “America’s Best Toy Shop.” According to IBISWorld, it holds the largest market share (23.1%) in the retail toy market (which includes video games), a nose ahead of Amazon (at 19.6%), according to an emailed report. Executives with the company said in August that Walmart had gained share in toys in the second quarter.

As it ramps up for the holidays, the retailer has increased its exclusive toy products by 25%, added 40 new toys from kid-influencer brands, released a “Top Rated by Kids” hot toy list, renewed its made-up “National Play Day” in-store events and relaunched its interactive toy lab. And all that is on top of expanding its toy assortment by 30% in stores last year and 40% online.

In mid-October, Walmart announced it was rolling back prices on more than 200 toys in stores and online, making for a total of more than 400 discounted items in the category ahead of the holiday season. The company said in a blog post at the time that it was “committed to having the best prices on toys.”

Keith Anderson, Profitero senior vice president of strategy and insights, said in an interview that his firm’s data shows Amazon leading on price in toys, but Walmart’s prices are within 1.7% of its rival’s. “Which is close enough that having the gift in hand now where you can see and hold it is probably worth it,” Anderson added.

Weiser notes that Walmart is “taking a slightly more sophisticated view” on price this year. Her team found that the company priced many items on its hot toy list this year at relatively high price points along with lower-priced commodity toys.

“I think Walmart comes comes out ahead, mostly due to price.”

Keith Anderson

Senior Vice President of Strategy and Insights at Profitero

Weiser also notes that Walmart’s toy list — a feature of the toy category that is part marketing tool, part vendor relations tool, part trend projections — includes the highest percentage of toys (42%) in six years that are made by those beyond the major players like Hasbro and Mattel.

“It shows that Walmart is trying to get either its own stuff more exclusive or it’s trying to get things that are more minor brands that are not the Mattel and Hasbro normal things,” she said.

Criteo found previously that Walmart and Target were the top choice among former Toys R Us shoppers that preferred brick-and-mortar stores. Gillespie said that in-store shoppers are more often of lower or middle income and prefer to pick up toys in person, where Walmart and Target can offer a one-stop shop for groceries along with the full range of other categories.

Walmart’s stores create opportunities for discovery as well. “With my daughter, if we’re walking through Walmart or Target, and she sees stuff that she likes, then it ends up on the wish list,” Anderson said. “I think there’s just a natural linkage between where the desire originates in many cases and where you ultimately buy it. I think Walmart comes comes out ahead, mostly due to price.”

Amazon

As it is with so many other categories, so it is with toys: Online, Amazon dominates.

Prior to the wind down of Toys R Us, Amazon controlled nearly 75% of all Hasbro and Mattel transactions online, according to Jumpshot. (Walmart’s share was just 2.9% at the time.) Amazon also ruthlessly ate Toys R Us’ lunch, snatching the ultimate sales from 80% of the users who viewed toy and video game products on Toys R Us’ site when it was active. (That is likely due to Toys R Us’ prices, which were consistently higher than mass merchant rivals online.)

Earlier this year, eMarketer projected Amazon’s sales in toys would grow about 23% this year. Perhaps even more important, 77% of shoppers in the U.S. start online toy searches at Amazon, Profitero found this year. Already a majority of customers prefer to shop for toys online.

And while Walmart and Target’s stores bring in traffic and, with it, potential impulse purchases, Profitero’s Anderson says that, “I just don’t think of as sort of a five or 10-year advantage over somebody like Amazon.”

As of Oct. 22, Amazon listed more than 630 toys as exclusive to its site, though the exact number has fluctuated.

Target

Like Walmart and Amazon, Target is accelerating its expansion into the category.

This year Target says it has more than 2,500 new and exclusive toys. That’s almost twice the number from last year, and the retailer also said it has deepened its inventory of new toys and “nostalgic favorites.” It is also reallocating space in 500 stores to make room for more toys, as well as promoting a paper toy catalog and “way more” in-store events.

Target has made two splashy moves in toys this year, though time will bear out how meaningful they are in terms of boosting sales. First, the company partnered with Disney to create 25 Disney toy shops within Target stores, with an additional 40 scheduled to open by October next year. The assortment at the stores-within-stores includes 100 products that were previously only available at Disney retail stores.

Target has also partnered with the revived Toys R Us to power the brand’s relaunched website. Whereas Toys R Us used to unintentionally lose 80% of its online sales to Amazon, now it is strategically sending all product sales to Target’s website via a “buy” button. Target, then, is managing the actual sales and fulfillment of orders by anyone coming to Toys R Us’ site — which houses reviews and interactive content — to actually buy something.

Is there room for anybody else?

Toys R Us’ tie-up with Target comes on top of its widely publicized re-entry into brick-and-mortar, with two stores opening this year.

The stores — opened through a joint venture between retail-as-a-service startup b8ta and the holding company that owns Toys R Us’ intellectual property — are also low-risk. They are much smaller than the previous incarnation’s box stores, and Toys R Us doesn’t purchase inventory and sell it, but rather sells space to toymakers.

“It’s a clever way for them at very low cost to essentially be this affiliate that feeds the traffic into a very trusted player, Target, while at the same time placing a modest bet, but a very interesting one, getting a lot of publicity through their retail stores,” Gillespie says of the new Toys R Us’ moves this year. “If they wait another year, it’s just going to get harder and harder because the brand nostalgia will fade over time. And the other entrenched players will build a little higher wall around those consumers.”

Anderson notes, though, that the “toysrus.com” website previously wasn’t even ranking on the first page of organic search results through Google for “Toys R Us,” though it was when he searched again in October. “That says to me … boy, nobody knows about this, nobody’s looking for this,” he said. “And so having it get to any kind of material volume that would impact the industry over this quarter, it is tough to imagine.”

The reincarnated Toys R Us returns to a category now almost entirely dominated by three of the biggest names in retail. That begs the question: Can anybody compete with Walmart, Amazon and Target in toys?

“If your strategy isn’t about price and convenience, you might as well not even bother.”

Bill Lewis

Director at AlixPartners

“There’s niche competitors that are trying to eke out differentiated experiences,” Lewis said. “And so I still think you’ll see this year people approaching the toy market with the strategy to gain share, because it’s fluid.”

In the category, Lewis says that top priorities for customers are price and convenience, which at scale “defaults to the big players.” But there is room for others to maneuver, he adds, if they have some offering on price and convenience, potentially by offering some toys as loss leaders or adding buy online, pick up in-store for toys.

Newcomers to the market this year could potentially nudge into the market with exclusive toys or character tie-ins. “But if your strategy isn’t about price and convenience, you might as well not even bother,” he said.

The opportunity that is out there amounts largely to “nibbling around the edges,” in Gillespie’s view. “It’s largely a product differentiation opportunity,” he said. “Maybe you’re into toys that are out of wood, and natural and sustainable” or other niche products.

Last year, it seemed like half of retail was trying to get a piece of the toy market. Kohl’s, Barnes & Noble, J.C. Penney, Five Below, Party City and grocery stores all expanded their toy presence in way or another. The market, even with one of the largest players gone, is as tough, and consolidated, as ever.

“I’m sure these other guys are trying to differentiate themselves,” Weiser said. “They can’t compete. Walmart can use as loss leaders, they can price below their costs. So if you’re a little specialty toy store, or even if you’re Barnes & Noble, you can’t compete with that.”

PARAMUS, N.J. – Just in time for the holiday season, Toys R Us is making a comeback in the form of a new store that opened Wednesday in New Jersey.

After Toys R Us filed for bankruptcy and shut down all of its U.S. locations in 2018, the iconic toy store chain was revived under its new parent company Tru Kids.

The new retail store is located at Westfield Garden State Plaza in Paramus, about 20 miles northeast of Newark.

Store employees are pictured at the Toys R Us store opening at Westfield Garden State Plaza in Paramus, New Jersey on Nov. 27, 2019. (Photo credit: FOX 5 NY)

Tru Kids partnered with b8ta, a software-powered experiential retailer, in a joint venture to launch a “new store experience.” The new Toys R Us store will be a smaller space but “highly interactive with new events and activities every day,” according to the company.

“As a kid, my memory of Toys ‘R’ Us was running up and down the aisles kicking balls and playing with the coolest toys,” said Phillip Raub, co-founder and president of b8ta and Interim co-CEO of the Toys ‘R’ Us joint venture. “As the retail landscape changes, so do consumer shopping habits. But what hasn’t changed is that kids want to touch everything and simply play.”

The New Jersey location is one of two stores the company plans to open this season in the U.S., including another at The Galleria in Houston, Texas, according to Tru Kids.

The inside of the new Toys R Us store at Westfield Garden State Plaza in Paramus, New Jersey is shown on Nov. 27, 2019. (Photo credit: FOX 5 NY)

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Richard Barry, now CEO of Tru Kids and a former Toys R Us executive, along with other former executives, founded Tru Kids earlier this year and are now managing the Toys R Us, Babies R Us and Geoffrey brands.

Tru Kids also partnered with Target to restart its online business ahead of the holiday shopping season. Toysrus.com, which launched in October, features product reviews and videos and directs browsers to a buy button at Target.com to complete the purchase.

RELATED: Parent company of Toys R Us teams up with Target to power online business

This story was reported from Cincinnati.

Toys R Us is being revived, but it probably won’t be the store you remember

  • Former Toys R Us properties and trademarks have organized into a new company called Tru Kids Brands, it announced on Monday.
  • The new company holds rights to develop new Toys R Us and Babies R Us stores. It also owns all of Toys R Us’ private toy and baby brands and the world-famous Geoffrey the Giraffe mascot.
  • Still, the company has shed all of its employees, most of its leadership, and all of its US stores, so don’t expect it to look or feel like the Toys R Us of yore.

Toys R Us is coming back — but don’t call it a comeback.

Former Toys R Us properties and trademarks have organized into a new company, according to a press release it released on Monday.

Called Tru Kids Brands, the new company holds rights to develop new Toys R Us and Babies R Us stores. It also owns all of Toys R Us’ private toy and baby brands and the world-famous Geoffrey the Giraffe mascot.

Its new CEO is Richard Barry, who will also serve as president. Barry previously served as CMO for the previous incarnation of Toys R Us.

“We have an incredible team focused on bringing Toys R Us and Babies R Us back in a completely new and reimagined way, so the US doesn’t have to go through another holiday without these beloved brands,” Barry said in a statement.

Taking that statement at face value, it’s difficult to predict what a reconstituted Toys R Us will actually look like. “A completely new and reimagined way” could mean many different things, but one thing is for sure: it likely won’t be the Toys R Us everybody remembers.

It will have new management, new employees, and new stores to go along with its new name. Some new employees will be rehired for the company’s new headquarters in New Jersey, but it’s unclear how many and what their roles will be.

Some of Toys R Us’ former management team is returning, including Matthew Finigan as CFO, James Young as EVP of global license management and general counsel, and Jean-Daniel Gatignol as SVP of global sourcing and brands.

Though Tru has not explained what its strategy will be in the US, it will be built from the ground up.

More than 700 US Toys R Us stores were liquidated in 2018. It’s safe to say it’ll be a while before Tru gets to that scale, if it ever does reach it.

But not having some of the hallmarks of the old Toys R Us also means that Tru won’t be saddled with its baggage: a weak and stunted online shopping platform and a mountain of debt, the payments of which prevented profits from going into reinvestment.

Tru also holds the international licenses for Toys R Us brands and properties that haven’t been sold off and will be opening 70 more stores in Asia, India, and Europe.

Read more: A toy exec explains the biggest reason why hot toys will be so hard to find this year

There is certainly room for a new dedicated toy store in the absence of Toys R Us, as other stores’ increased toy sales were not able to fill the hole the toy chain left during 2018’s holiday shopping season.

“Several factors added up to a smaller share of wallet for traditional toys in 2018, including a shrinking retail footprint and the increasing demand for video games,” Frédérique Tutt, the global toys industry analyst at NPD Group, said in a press release.

Barry is counting on that — along with the nostalgia for the Toys R Us brand — to pull the new company through.

Toys ‘R’ Us is back online — but you’re really buying from Target

Toys ‘R’ Us is coming back — in spirit.

The toy retailer, which shuttered last year after filing for bankruptcy in 2017, has reopened via its website. But when customers are ready to check out, they’ll be redirected to what was once a competitor’s store: Target.com, Business Insider reports.

Target is helping the retailer maintain its brand — even though it’s essentially defunct. The retailer’s parent company, Tru Kids Brands, acquired the toy chain’s remaining assets, and struck the deal with Target to fulfill orders. As part of the deal, customers can still use the product reviews of Toys ‘R’ Us and get its site’s help choosing the right toy.

For those who still miss the experience of picking out the latest Lego set in a brick-and-mortar store, later this fall, Toys ‘R’ Us will open two “experiential” stores in Houston, Texas, and Paramus, NJ.

Those, too, will be run by Target, and if toys aren’t in the store, customers will be directed to order online at Target.com.

Target has been swiftly filling in the gaps Toys ‘R’ Us left behind when it liquidated. In New York, a Target is planned to replace both the former Toys ‘R’ Us and Babies ‘R’ Us spaces at the Caesar’s Bay Shopping Center in Gravesend, Brooklyn.

NEW YORK — Toys R Us fans in the U.S. should see the iconic brand re-emerge in some form by this holiday season.

Richard Barry, a former Toys R Us executive and now CEO of the new company called Tru Kids Brands, told The Associated Press he and his team are still working on the details, but they’re exploring various options including freestanding stores and shops within existing stores. He says that e-commerce will play a key role.

Toys R Us, buckling under competition from Amazon and several billions of dollars of debt, filed for Chapter 11 reorganization in September 2017 and then liquidated its businesses last year in the U.S. as well as several other regions including the United Kingdom.

In October, a group of investors won an auction for Toys R Us assets, believing they would do better by potentially reviving the toy chain, rather than selling it off for parts. Starting Jan. 20, Barry and several other former Toys R Us executives founded Tru Kids and are now managing the Toys R Us, Babies R Us and Geoffrey brands. Toys R Us generated $3 billion in global retail sales in 2018. Tru Kids estimates that 40 percent to 50 percent of Toys R Us market share is still up for grabs despite many retailers like Walmart and Target expanding their toy aisles.

“These brands are beloved by customers,” said Barry. He noted that the company will focus on experiences in the physical stores, which could be about 10,000 square feet. The original Toys R Us stores were roughly about 40,000 square feet.

Barry said he and his team have been reaching out to toy makers and have received strong support. But he acknowledged that many had been burned by the Toys R Us liquidation.

Tru Kids, based in Parsippany, New Jersey, about a 20 minute drive from Wayne, New Jersey, where Toys R Us was based, will work with licensing partners to open 70 stores this year in Asia, India and Europe. Outside the U.S., Toys R Us continues to operate about 800 stores.