Tru Kids Brand, the organisation that bought the rights to the Toys ‘R’ Us name as part of the chain’s massive fire sale last year, announced today that it was bringing the toy stores back to the United States in time for the holiday season. But not as the giant warehouse stores everybody remembers with toys stacked to the ceiling. Instead, they’ll be popping up inside another dying retail experience: shopping malls.
That’s the good news. The bad news is that Tru Kids has partnered with experiential retailer b8ta to create stores that focus on the “…hottest toy products and brands, carefully curated and showcased in highly immersive smaller-format spaces.”
Instead of just being rows and rows of shelves stocked with what kids actually want, the new Toys ‘R’ Us stores will be more like interactive playgrounds with pre-planned events and activities every day, and the opportunity to play with a handful of toy samples.
Toymakers will also be encouraged to design and set up branded shops within the new stores, creating another potential revenue stream for Tru Kids. The idea sounds like a mashup of the old Toys R Us experience and what Apple offers in its modern stores, with a focus on inundating kids and parents with ads and marketing for their tightly curated stock.
Despite plans for this U.S. expansion, Toys ‘R’ Us — which soft-launched in Australia and New Zealand as an online-only store — is still sticking to their online-only store approach in the countries (planned for the first 18 months of launch). Australians, sit tight — Geoffrey is coming soon.
A slow rollout is planned, with scattered stores opening across the U.S., but if you’re tempted to fly out to visit one, instead just head north to Canada, where there’s still loads of Toys ‘R’ Us stores all over the country.