Cue the zombie memes and comeback anthems: It looks like Toys "R" Us may be on the brink of announcing plans to open a handful of new stores in the U.S.
According to Bloomberg, unnamed sources have said that Richard Barry, the CEO of Tru Kids Inc., the company formed earlier this year from the skeletal remains of the 70-year-old retailer, is discussing the rebirth of a much smaller version of Toys "R" Us by this holiday season. The plan would reportedly include about six stores that would be only 10,000-square feet (a third of the size of the old big-box stores) plus an e-commerce site.
A spokesperson for Tru Kids told Motherly there was no official comment on this news at the moment. But Bloomberg's reports came after Barry had reportedly pitched this plan at an industry conference last week.
Also lending credence to this report is the fact that Isaac Larian, CEO of MGA Entertainment Inc., makers of L.O.L. Surprise! Dolls and Little Tikes, confirmed to Bloomberg that he had been pitched the idea. "This market needs a self-standing toy store, that's for sure," Larian told the news service. "We will sell them inventory."
The toy industry, and those of us consuming its goods, have been anticipating something like this since February, when Tru Kids Inc. first announced that it was the "proud parent" of the brand. (That includes Toys "R" Us stores that still exist elsewhere in the world.) That's when Barry began promising that his company was brainstorming new ideas for its comeback.
All 735 Toys "R" Us stores in the U.S. closed last summer, following the bankruptcy filing of the company in 2017. This left nearly 20,000 employees out of work, and sent many toy manufacturers in disarray.
Interestingly, the closures didn't just mean parents bought their kids' toys online or at other stores. According to the New York Times, only a third of sales Toys "R" Us' would-be holiday sales went to other retailers. This is presumably because without a giant toys-only wonderland before them, people were somehow more restrained in their buying habits.
Other factors, such as a declining birth rate and the rise of video games, have been blamed for the slowing of toy sales. (Wouldn't it be nice if it were just because we were wasting less, and kids were whittling their toys from sticks in the backyard?) The people bringing Toys "R" Us back from the dead know some things have to change.
According to Bloomberg, the new, smaller stores, will include adjustments to modern buying habits. There will be an emphasis on experiences, including play areas in the stores. Products might also be sold on consignment, so Toys "R" Us won't pay the makers until they sell the toys to consumers. How manufacturers burned by the company's bankruptcy will react to that idea remains to be seen.
Will nostalgic Toys "R" Us kids—and their kids—flock to the reincarnated stores? They may have to get over this plot twist, first.
"What the what?!" Grace Randolph asked on Twitter, reacting to the news. "Then why did we have to go thru all that drama?! #Disney, is this secretly promotion for #ToyStory4?!"
But let's be honest, if they have the latest L.O.L. Surprise! in stock come December, some of us will have no choice.
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