Michaels on Friday announced the launch of MichaelsKids.com, a rebranding and expansion of its in-store kids assortment in stores and online.
The assortment includes "creative toys and activities developed to help kids learn, grow, and discover screen-free fun they'll love," including tools, STEM toys and brands like Legos the retailer hasn't previously sold, according to a company press release.
The effort is aimed at younger kids and aims to take advantage of the void left by the collapse of Toys R Us, CEO Chuck Rubin told analysts in August, according to a transcript from Seeking Alpha.
The holidays are busy at Michaels because shoppers turn to it to fashion their holiday decorations and cards, but the crafts retailer is also hoping to attract those looking for gifts for younger kids.
It's just the latest retailer swooping in to pick up the slack left by the closure of toy behemoth Toys R Us. Others include Walmart, Amazon, Target, Kohl's, J.C. Penney and smaller, independent toy stores. The toy seller was outgunned on price by rivals during the holiday season last year, as it had been for several years.
On top of failing to get ahead of that, the specialty retailer made numerous operational bungles during the holidays. Toys R Us' failures last holiday season set its liquidation in motion while establishing an even wider opening for other retailers to get into the toy game. Toys R Us, after stumbling even before its Chapter 11 filing and botched holiday season, shuttered all its stores this past summer, leaving toymakers to scramble and other retailers to make a play for the category.
Mattel and Hasbro have looked to fill the hole left by Toys R Us and have said they're turning to general retailers to make up those sales. In fact, Mattel CEO Ynon Kreiz told analysts in July that there's greater potential for sales to be absorbed by other retailers than the company first thought.
"I think a lot of retailers are going to be looking to pick up a piece of it, but our view is our place should be in that creative piece of the kids industry," Michaels' Rubin said in an August conference call. "So I wouldn't expect for customers to see video games for instance from Michaels. But I think our assortment will skew on the younger age of the spectrum, it will focus more on educational creative elements of the toy market."
And Michaels, calling itself "North America's largest arts and crafts specialty retailer," in another announcement Friday said it expects to be busy, with plans to hire more than 15,000 seasonal positions across distribution centers and 1,200 stores across 49 states in the U.S. and Canada. Seasonal employees will receive "competitive wages, flexible hours and a 30% discount," the company said in a press release. Last year, Michaels hired more than 40% of seasonal positions for regular roles after the holiday season.