Toys “R” Us is officially coming back to the U.S. just in time for this year’s holiday shopping season.
Earlier today, Tru Kids, the current owner of the Toys “R” Us, Babies “R” Us and Geoffrey brand names, announced that it will open two permanent stores in November — one at Simon Property Group’s Galleria mall in Houston, Texas, and the other at Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield’s Garden State Plaza mall in Paramus, New Jersey.
These new stores, however, will be smaller than the company’s locations prior to its bankruptcy last year. According to CNBC, the new stores will only be 6,500 to 10,000 square feet, compared with the 40,000 square feet they used to take up. Tru Kids is hoping to open 10 stores around the U.S. in 2020, possibly including a larger flagship in New York or California.
Though Toys “R” Us will have a smaller footprint this time around, Richard Barry — president of Tru Kids and the former chief merchandising officer of Toys “R” Us — is confident that the toy retailer will be able to offer shoppers cool products and super exciting set of experiences with the help of its new software-powered experiential retailer partner, b8ta.
“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, in a 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.”
Following b8ta’s innovative experiential retail model, Toys “R” Us’ brand partners will present their products in an interactive, playground-like environment, creating an entirely new retail experience focused on product discovery and engagement. Toy brands will also have the opportunity to design custom experiences and branded shops to help them create memorable experiences for customers.
Additionally, b8ta will give Tru Kids access to data and analytics to monitor foot traffic in and out of the stores to help the company make smarter decisions. “This year is going to be an opportunity for us to test and learn,” Raub said.
Last year’s liquidation of Toys “R” Us spoiled its relationships with a number of toy brands, but with its new partnership with b8ta, more and more brands are starting to give the retailer another chance. In fact, Barry said that talks with toy and entertainment companies have been “very positive” so far, adding that brands are giving Toys “R” Us “credit for innovation”.
Toys “R” Us’ brand partners and in-store experiences will be announced in the coming weeks.