E-commerce giant Amazon, which remains determined to cannibalize what’s left of the brick-and-mortar competitors it helped kill off, may be making a move on the turf formerly occupied by bankrupt retail chain Toys “R” Us with plans to distribute a holiday toy catalog.
According to Bloomberg, though people familiar with the plan were light on detail, it looks like if Amazon is at least considering a fairly massive launch involving millions of print catalogs:
The printed guide will be mailed to millions of U.S. households and handed out at Whole Foods Market locations, the grocery chain Amazon bought last year, said the people, who asked not to be named because the plan isn’t public.
The move is part of Amazon’s push to incorporate traditional retailers’ tools into its business model. It even looked at acquiring some Toys “R” Us locations earlier this year, according to people familiar at the time.
Amazon has published a digital toy catalog for the past decade, but this is the first time it is apparently aiming to distribute actual mailers.
As Bloomberg noted, even though Toys “R” Us tanked hard earlier this year with over $5 billion in debt and a massive liquidation sale to close out its over 800 remaining US stores, it still generated a significant amount of revenue each year—around $6.5 billion in 2017. Competitors vying for that pile of cash include Target and, bizarrely, Party City, which is planning to do pop-up toy stores during the holiday season.
Amazon is not solely responsible for the toy chain’s death—the primary reason for its woes was all that debt, which was largely loaded onto it by vampiric private equity firms that took it private in 2006—but the online competition didn’t help. Per CNN Money, Toys “R” Us was never able to dig its way out of its money hole and was still spending $400 million a year “just to service” its debt when it filed for bankruptcy in September 2017.
While browsing the ethically dubious Amazon’s holiday catalog may feel somewhat less heartwarming than the one belonging to its predecessor, there is a silver lining. In an age where toys are just shipped to you, we’ll never have to suffer through another Jingle All the Way: