Toys ‘R’ Us: We Are Now an Experience

Tru Kids Brands says it is reviving Toys ‘R’ Us with partners to create ‘destinations.’

Photo:

Daniel Hulshizer/Associated Press

Sept. 19, 2019 1:41 pm ET

Millennials, we have been told, prefer to spend money on experiences. Does that go for their kids as well? Tru Kids Brands, which owns the postbankruptcy Toys “R” Us brand, says it is reviving the former toy retailer with partners to create “destinations.” It is linking up with a self-described “software-powered experiential retailer” b8ta to “deliver the hottest toy products and brands, carefully curated and showcased in highly immersive smaller-format spaces.” These are otherwise known as stores and will be in malls in Houston and Paramus, N.J.

Tru Kids is also joining with Candytopia, the “candy-coated experiential adventure,” to open an “immersive wonderland that celebrates the whimsical, silly and fun of toys and play” on Chicago’s Michigan Avenue. Building blocks-creator Lego A/S has tried to jump-start its sales by embracing digital offerings and using hands-on stores in malls. Candytopia’s CEO told the Chicago Tribune, “It’s not just about Instagram.” “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,” said

Phillip Raub,

co-founder and president of b8ta. Still, those who have stepped over unwrapped Barbie boxes in a Toys “R” Us aisle might beg to differ how much of a differentiator this really is. Write to Lauren Silva Laughlin at lauren.silvalaughlin@wsj.com

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