Toys “R” Back

At its peak, Toys “R” Us was considered a “category killer” — a store that had such a wide range of products across a single category, that it became a major competitor to pretty much any other business in the category. But with the rise of big box stores like Target and online stores like Amazon, they began losing business fast. In early 2018, the brand filed for bankruptcy and closed all Toys “R” Us stores in the U.S. and Britain — over 800 of them. But almost two years later they’re back, and hopefully not going anywhere soon.

Here’s how the Toys “R” Us rebound went down.

October 2018: Planting the Seeds

The brand’s lenders announced that they plan to relaunch Toys “R” Us in the future. Even with the bankruptcy, the Toys “R” Us brand was too valuable and iconic to go to waste.

January 2019: Introducing Tru Kids

The brand cancelled the bankruptcy action and relaunched as Tru Kids, the new parent company of Toys “R” Us and Babies “R” Us. Tru Kids then began planning what would become the first new Toys “R” Us stores since before filing for bankruptcy.

October 2019: Target Partnership

Toys “R” Us announced a partnership with Target—a former rival. With the new partnership, all toys on the Toys “R” Us website are sold through a link that redirects the user to Toys “R” Us is still very much a brand, but this partnership made it clear that it is no longer a true retailer.

November 2019: Retail Relaunch

On November 30, the first new Toys “R” Us store launched in Paramus, NJ. The second store opened in early December in Houston, TX. The new stores have a huge emphasis on in-store experience and are filled with interactivity, including a climbable tree house and a Nerf test shooting range. Along with the focus on in-store experience, Toys “R” Us is taking a major step back from their old store model. The new stores only stock about 1500 toys, but visitors can use a plethora of in-store technology to shop the entire catalogue online — over 1500 items.

At the end of the day, Toys “R” Us was able to rebound from bankruptcy because of the strength of its brand and some very smart marketing moves. Partnering with an incredibly stable retailer like Target should help “future-proof” the brand and provide some much-needed security. And the focus on an interactive in-store experience will help keep Toys “R” Us on the cutting edge in a time where brick-and-mortar stores are struggling to stand out against the convenience of online shopping. Toys “R” Us is a fun brand, and the new stores are just that—full of fun.

Here’s hoping the fun never dies.