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  • Writer's pictureDavid Baker

TOYS ‘R’ US – The Brand That Refused to Die

R U a Toys ‘R’ Us kid? If so, then you vividly remember the slow, agonizing demise of the popular toy retailer several years ago. But don’t despair, the brand is back! Sort of.

Toys ‘R’ Us is taking another shot at opening a store in the United States.

WHP Global, the toy retailer’s parent company, has announced that that it will open a two-level, 20,000-square-foot Toys ‘R’ Us location at the American Dream megamall in New Jersey this month and then operate the store on extended hours for the remainder of the holiday season. WHP Global acquired a controlling interest in Tru Kids, Inc., the brand owner, in March earlier this year.

Known for the backwards ‘R’ in its logo, its catchy jingle, its easily recognized brand ambassador, Geoffrey the Giraffe, and., most of all, its seemingly endless aisles of toys, games, bicycles, and assorted trappings of childhood, the company was the target of a leveraged buyout by a group of private equity firms in 2005. Then, in 2017, the company filed for bankruptcy protection and reorganization only to completely shutter U.S. business operations in late 2018 after failing to get its finances in order.

International rights to the brand are held by numerous entities and even though they also suffered through the U.S. brand implosion and later the international COVID-19 pandemic, Toys ‘R’ Us stores in Europe and Asia remained open.

Several generations of American children grew up relying on the Toys ‘R’ Us brand as the source of holiday, birthday, and special occasion happiness (the retailer began life in 1948 as a baby-furniture retailer in Washington, D.C.), eventually creating so much demand that the company accounted for more than one-fifth of all toy sales in the U.S.

Tru Kids, Inc. had bought the rights to the U.S. brand in a 2018 liquidation sale and briefly resurrected it at two retail locations in New Jersey and Texas before closing up shop, seemingly for good, in 2019 when the pandemic hit and ruined traditional retail operations across the country.

In addition to a variety of toy brands and gaming merchandise, WHP said the location will offer experiences for kids, including a two-story slide. It will also have a cafe and ice cream shop. The store will be located nearby the Nickelodeon Universe theme park and DreamWorks water park at the American Dream, adding it to a slate of experiential offerings at the property, which are in a separate wing from the retail stores.

The announcement comes after WHP relaunched the Toys ‘R’ us website though a partnership with Macy’s in August. It’s also on track to open over 400 Toys ‘R’ Us shop-in-shops in Macy’s department stores beginning next year.

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