- A host of retailers, landlords, and real estate and investment firms put in the winning bids at the latest auction of more than 50 Toys R Us properties. A hearing is set for June 25 to approve the auction sales.
- Among the winning bidders are Big Lots, which bought six locations in auction, and Ollie's Bargain Outlet, which also bought six, according to a court filing.
- Other buyers included furniture retailers Scandinavian Designs (which bought five locations) and Ashley Furniture (one location), as well as Aldi (one location) and off-price retailer Burlington (one location).
With Toys R Us vacating the more than 800 stores it entered Chapter 11 with, the market has a big hole to fill in an environment with few expanding retailers.
But there are some, like off-price and discount retailers. In a way, the buyers of the toy retailers' properties reflect the troubles that drove it into bankruptcy. Those expanding their brick-and-mortar footprints significantly are deep value retailers, like TJX Cos., Ross, Ollie's and Burlington. A deep discounter Toys R Us was not, often losing on price to mass merchants and Amazon, one of the several factors that led to the collapse of the retailer.
Others interested in these Toys R Us properties, and some who have already bought auctioned locations, are furniture showrooms, mass merchants and generalists. In other words, retailers that need and can financially support big spaces. Meanwhile, Toys R Us' large stores had become a burden on the retailer as competition increased and sales fell.
On the whole, there are few retailers looking for space that have the size needs a Toys R Us store would give them, Marc Landis, a partner with Phillips Nizer's real estate practice, pointed out in an interview earlier this year. Some former Toys R Us stores could be re-purposed into experience-based centers, such as small movie theaters, Landis suggested. No doubt, some landlords and shopping center managers will have to get creative.
And then there are the reports and rumors that some intrepid party could save a portion of Toys R Us stores to keep the retailer alive with a physical footprint, after the CEO of MGA Entertainment dropped his public pursuit of hundreds of Toys R Us stores. So far, no such savior has materialized.