Do you remember when Toys "R" Us closed up shop across country? And everyone was feeling nostalgic about losing the stores and Geoffrey the Giraffe was basically left to fend for himself since who else is going to ever hire such a specific giraffe for any other job? Well, it looks like Geoffrey might be in luck. Announced today, July 18, Tru Kids, the toy store chain's parent company, will be bringing back Toys "R" Us stores with a "highly interactive" spin, which means holiday shopping could actually be a bit of fun this year. Praise be to Geoffrey.
Tru Kids and software retailer b8ta have partnered up in an effort to revive the Toys "R" Us name with a small number of locations "to launch a new store experience" after all stores across North America closed up shop in June 2018, according to CNBC. The retailer had struggled to stay afloat after filing for bankruptcy in September 2017, finally shuttering its doors ithe following year and leaving 30,000 employees without jobs, according to CNN. And, at the time, it seemed as though the Toys "R" Us name would become part of history. But fast forward one year later and it looks like there might be a pretty exciting revival in the works.
The two companies have come together to offer a totally different shopping experience, with new events every day, toys presented out of the box for kids to try out in real time, embracing STEAM learning with different stations for interactive play, and please let's not forget the most important — play time with Geoffrey the Giraffe in an open play space.
Tru Kids CEO Richard Barry explained in a press release that Tru Kids and b8ta want to offer families visiting Toys "R" Us that will make more sense in a modern shopping environment.
"With a 70 year heritage, the Toys 'R' Us brandi s beloved by kids and families around the world, and continues to play a leading role in the hearts and minds of today’s consumers," Barry said. "We have an incredible opportunity to entirely reimagine the Toys 'R' Us brand in the U.S. and are thrilled to partner with b8ta and key toy vendors to create a new, highly-engaging retail experience designed for kids, families and to better fit within today’s retail environment."
Two permanent stores are scheduled to open in The Galleria in Houston, Texas, a Simon Mall, and in Westfield Garden State Plaza in Paramus, New Jersey in time for the holiday season, with plans to open more stores in high-traffic retail locations across the country throughout 2020. And b8ta CEO Phillip Raub is especially excited for this new venture for one reason — he was a Toys "R" Us kid.
"As a kid, my memory of Toys 'R' Us was running up and down the aisles kicking balls and playing with the coolest toys. As the retail landscape changes, so do consumer shopping habits," Raub said in a press release. "But what hasn’t changed is that kids want to touch everything and simply play. In partnership with Richard and his team, we are excited to bring back Toys 'R' Us in an immersive way, focused on creating a fun and engaging experience for kids — and adults, too."
Allowing children to play with toys and play with their parents in a retail store could well be the wave of the future that keeps brick and mortar toy stores alive. Welcome back, Toys "R" Us. We didn't know how much we would miss you.