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Retailer looking to foster a new generation of Toys”R”Us kids



Rendering from Tru Kids Brand.
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Maybe we’ll have a new generation of Toys”R”Us kids after all, as the brand will be rising from its retail graveyard—at least in a small way—just in time for this year’s holiday shopping.

The popular kids toy retailer filed for bankruptcy in September 2017 hoping to reorganize. Under pressure from internet retailers such as Amazon and big box stores such as Walmart, Toys“R”Us saw an anemic holiday season and called it quits in the United States in March 2018. The chain announced at the time that although it would remain open in some other countries, including Canada, it would quickly close all its 735 stores in the U.S. Some 31,000 employees lost their jobs.

Today, Tru Kids Brands, the parent company of Toys“R”Us  announced it will bring Toys“R”Us stores back to the United States this holiday season through a partnership with a San Francisco-based company b8ta, a “software-powered experiential retailer.” The joint venture “will deliver the hottest toy products and brands, carefully curated and showcased in highly immersive smaller-format spaces,” Tru Kids said in a statement.

The first two re-imagined Toys“R”Us stores will be located in upscale malls in Houston, Texas and Paramus, N.J. in time for the big Christmas retail season.

“With a 70-year heritage, the Toys“R”Us brand is beloved by kids and families around the world, and continues to play a leading role in the hearts and minds of today’s consumers,” said Richard Barry, CEO of Tru Kids and Interim co-CEO of the new Toys“R”Us joint venture in the statement. “We have an incredible opportunity to entirely re-imagine 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.”

The company says the new, interactive stores will serve as “must-visit destinations for kids to learn, play, and fall in love with the latest and most popular toys, and for parents to have fun with their children and ignite their own childlike sense of play.

“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 in the statement. “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. 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.”

Using b8ta’s innovative experiential retail model, brands will showcase their products in an interactive, playground-like environment, creating an entirely new retail experience centered around product discovery and engagement. Brands also will have the opportunity to design custom experiences and branded shops to help them create memorable experiences for parents and children. This experiential retail environment will leverage b8ta’s Retail as a Service (RaaS) platform, which enables brands to actively manage their in-store experiences and measure how offline experiences translate into online sales.

“b8ta is proud to bring Toys“R”Us stores back to the U.S.,” said Vibhu Norby, CEO of b8ta. “The new Toys“R”Us stores will be the most progressive and advanced stores in its category in the world, and we hope to surprise and delight kids for generations to come.”

The companies plan to open additional locations in prime, high-traffic retail markets within the U.S. over the course of 2020.



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