Okay, now this is going to be a snarkticle.
That’s fun talk for snarky article.
Every couple of months, a new article, usually from a financial institution or a news source for grown ups comes out with slender promises of progress in the ‘Toys R Us is reopening, new toy store will be here, we promise’ vein. Often times, those articles just sort of repeat information. At this point, discussing Toys R Us is like click bait in the toy news world. You know it will get attention, you know some fans will do anything to get their toy store back, and you know others are (rightfully) angry because of the bad choices Toys R Us made that lead to their US stores being sold and shut down.
Which leads us to this point– where are we up to this point, and what can we (supposedly) expect?
There is definitely a little bit of confusion, and I think this most recent article from CNN contributes to that. In my personal opinion, the entire Toys R Us shutting down and rebranding is a clear conspiracy. And if not a conspiracy, every step along the way is very much intentional. There have been no accidents here. Here’s what I mean by that, and we will use KB Toys as an example.
KB, or KayBee Toys, was a series of small toy stores, typically inside malls, that legitimately went out of business. After the stores shut down, the IP, or Intellectual Property, went up for auction. It was purchased, and now the individual or group that owns said IP is having trouble gaining enough funding to reopen stores. Unfortunately, they’re too shortsighted to understand that if they just sell shirts, totes, or toys of the logo and mascot, the Nostalgia Crew of people in their 30s-40s will throw money at them. They are narrowly focused on ‘How do we make the toy store toy store’ and therefore are setting their sights too big.
On the flip side, Toys R Us has a different situation. With bloated stores busting at the seams with garbage people didn’t want, a filthy floor map that lost the magic of the 80s (with the Nickelodeon Toy Run and other Neverland style reminders that we would forever be Toys R Us Kids), and other corporate issues, it wasn’t a surprise when Toys R Us handed off their Bankruptcy to a company that ultimately ensured they were shutting down.
From there, fans were crushed and the toy industry definitely felt the impact of the loss of Toys R Us. Shortly after, a articles came out stating that the Toys R Us IP was too valuable to auction off, but instead, a remaining group of executives would slim it down and rebrand the company into TRU Kids Brands. Just a tiny little start up…
That earned billions of dollars in 2018.
While Toys ‘R’ Us disappeared from the American retail landscape, the brand is licensed to more than 900 stores in Asia and Europe, which generated sales of more than $3 billion for Tru Kids last year. In February, Tru Kids said it will open 70 more stores overseas this year. – The New York Post
Remember friends, Toys R Us still exists in Canada, Japan, and China where evidence shows that the company is thriving. Here in the US, we received the Geoffrey’s Toy Box pop up in select Krogers, or Ralphs, stores, but it was limited to Melissa and Doug toys and other boutique ‘oops, I forgot tom buy Child X a present’ during the 2017 Christmas season. Now, going back to the new CNN article above, it admits one thing–
The TRU Kids Brand holders won the rights to Toys R Us and its subsidiaries (Babies R Us, Geoffrey’s Toy Box, etc.)
Originally, TRU Brands made statements that they were aiming for the international market first to open TRU Kids boutique style toy stores. Now, they say they’re aiming to open two stores in the United States with plans to open more in 2020. They did get one detail right; that the United States needs an independent chain of toy stores, whether or not it is Toys R Us, TRU Brands, or someone completely different.
Toy Wizards will continue to report new Toys R Us and TRU Kids findings as they arise, but really, nothing major has changed (for us, the general public and consumer) for quite a while.
What about you? If TRU Kids reopens, will you check it out? Or do you think the politics and business model is too slimy to deal with? Are you happy with Walmart, Target, Amazon, and independent sellers or do you miss the size, stock, and accessibility of Toys R Us? Leave your comments for us and get the conversation going!