Following the news that Toys "R" Us filed for bankruptcy liquidation on Wednesday, many parents handled the disappointing turn of events with a sense of resignation. Brick and mortar toy stores are quickly becoming a thing of the past, and it's only a matter of time before online retailers completely dominate the toy market, right? Although logic and common sense supports this theory, a defunct toy store chain called KB Toys supposedly believes it can "save" the toy industry singlehandedly by replacing Toys "R" Us stores with its own. Yep, you read that correctly: KB Toys is reportedly planning a comeback following the news that Toys "R" Us is dead. And if you're scratching your head at this business idea, rest assured that you're not alone in your confusion.
KB Toys, a retail chain founded in 1992 that once boasted 1,300 locations across the United States, closed its doors in 2008 amid a slough of financial issues. At the time of its demise, the company had listed up to "$500 million in debts and up to $500 million in assets," according to the East Bay Times. Translation: the company went completely bankrupt, a situation Toys "R" Us would find itself in just 10 years later.
So, how does a bankrupt toy store intend to pick up where Toys "R" Us left off? And do people even remember KB Toys? It's safe to say the internet has a lot of questions.
Essentially, what's going on is this: Strategic Marks, a company that "acquires and develops trademarks in order to rebuild old brands," bought KB Toys' trademark in 2016 for revitalization purposes. And while Strategic Marks initially intended to relaunch the company online, it decided to opt for brick and mortar stores once it heard about Toys "R" Us' misfortune. What's especially interesting about this plan is that Toys "R" Us had purchased KB Toys' trademark once upon a time, but the company let it go unused. You snooze, you lose, right?
Ellia Kassoff, the chief executive of Strategic Marks, is *very* hopeful that KB Toys can fill the void of Toys "R" Us. In a LinkedIn post titled, "WE ARE GOING TO SAVE THE TOY INDUSTRY," Kassoff wrote:
As some of you know, our company Strategic Marks, LLC has acquired KB-Toys about a year ago. During that period, we had been working on several models to resurrect the "Great American Toy Store" and to make sure the stores can compete with Toys R Us, other brick and mortar stores as well as on-line retail. Well, with the demise of Toys R Us, this week, we have now accelerated our business plan and hope to have our stores up and running before Christmas. We're in discussions with many of the toy manufactures, as we try to find out the best way to support them and the 20% loss of the US toy market due to the Toys R Us liquidation. We believe we will have the infrastructure in-place and [hopefully] save the toy industry.
Oh, and if you're wondering how Kassoff plans to stock the stores, he told CNN Money on Tuesday: "My assumption is that there's about half a billion dollars worth of toys that have been produced for Toys "R" Us with no place to go That's a big, big void that we're hoping to fill up."
Kassoff is also supposedly in talks with toy manufacturers like Mattel, according to the New York Post, and he intends to launch 1,000 KB pop-up stores by November 2018. Kassoff did not immediately respond to Romper’s request for comment.
As for how the internet is handling Kassoff's triumphant announcement, most people are struggling to make sense of it all.
Others are feeling nostalgic:
And some people, like myself, are feeling old:
Of course, there's no telling how Kassoff's business plan will play out. Either way, you got to give the toy industry props for keeping consumers on its toes — it's not every day that a defunct toy store comes back from the grave.
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