- The revived Toys R Us plans to open a new two-story, 20,000-square-foot flagship at the American Dream mall in New Jersey.
- The store is set to open in mid-December, at the tail end of this year's holiday shopping season, according to a press release from Toys R Us parent WHP Global.
- The new location represents the first stand-alone Toys R Us since WHP's acquisition of the brand, and the only U.S. store after two short-lived stores, under a partnership with b8ta, shuttered earlier this year.
The Toys R Us brand reboot is getting its own reboot. Since WHP bought a controlling stake in the remnants of the former toy retail empire, Toys R Us has announced a large-scale store-in-store partnership with Macy's, and now an ambitious new flagship at an ambitious (yet struggling) new mall.
The new store is likely more a marketing vehicle for the brand than a sales channel. In the release, WHP said that the new store would be "reminiscent of the beloved toy store customers know and love, as visitors can shop their favorite toy brands, meet Geoffrey the Giraffe, [and] rediscover their love of play with interactive experiences and product demonstrations."
The company also touted branded and experiential features like "Geoffrey's Café," an ice cream parlor and a two-story slide.
At American Dream, the new store will be just feet from the Nickelodeon Universe Theme Park and DreamWorks Water Park, putting it in close proximity to other major family destinations. "Debuting our first Toys R Us flagship here is a no-brainer," Yehuda Shmidman, chairman and CEO of both WHP and Toys R Us, said in a statement.
The two stores the Toys R Us brand opened with b8ta in 2019 were also supposed to be experience-driven, a place to showcase and play with new products. The new flagship, however, is roughly three times as large and has elements (such as the cafe and slide) that could make it a destination, a place for families to linger.
The partnership with Macy's gives the Toys R Us brand more geographic depth yet less direct contact with customers. The merchandising and operations for the Toys R Us store-in-stores is mostly driven by Macy's, which is eyeing expanded sales in the toy category through housing an iconic toy retail brand.
None of the recent brick-and-mortar experiments resemble the more than 700 big-box toy stores Toys R Us ran before it collapsed in bankruptcy and liquidated its entire U.S. footprint. Since then, retailers large and small have rushed in to fill the void left by the toy store chain. Many, such as Party City, have already given up their foray into toys. Meanwhile Walmart, Target and Amazon have added even more toy share after taking large chunks of Toys R Us' market in its final years.
The toy industry as a whole has by and large found a way to live without Toys R Us. The pandemic has given a boost to the category, with toys taking on a revived relevance in the age of social distancing, and during school and childcare closures.