Toys ‘R’ Us is back after bankruptcy–in New Jersey, that is
Visitors to one of New Jersey’s poshest malls will get a first glimpse of the revamped, post-bankruptcy Toys “R” Us just in time for the holiday season.
The troubled toy chain opens a new store in the Garden State Plaza in Paramus on Wednesday, re-emerging after going into liquidation more than a year ago. It’s the first of 10 new locations planned to be operational by the end of next year.
Instead of the towering aisles of the former outlets, the new stores have kid-height shelves in specialty spaces stocked by toy brands like Paw Patrol, Nerf and Nintendo. About 1,500 items will be available on site; other products can be ordered via in-store touchscreens and fulfilled online by retailer Target Corp.
The demise of Toys “R” Us under a huge pile of debt was a big blow to the toy industry. The chain, which generated more than $7 billion in annual sales in the U.S. through more than 700 stores before filing for bankruptcy in 2017, was a key proving ground for new, innovative toys and smaller suppliers.
It will be an uphill battle for the company to regain its former dominance. During last year’s holidays, the first season without a U.S. Toys “R” Us presence in decades, rival retailers swooped in to take market share. Walmart Inc., for example, held thousands of in-store events where kids could test out items, while online retailer Amazon.com Inc. issued a printed toy catalog. The mega retailers have continued their toy expansion this year, with Target adding 25 mini-Disney stores that will capitalize on upcoming movie releases from Star Wars and Frozen.
Toys “R” Us’s reincarnation will have a focus on experiences like a replica treehouse and a movie theater in stores. A costumed version of mascot Geoffrey the Giraffe will also greet kids and parents.
“There’s such pent-up demand to see what the new Toys R’ Us experience will look like,” Richard Barry, chief executive officer of Toys “R” Us parent Tru Kids Inc., said in an interview.
The second store will open in the Galleria mall in Houston next week.