You’d assume a store packed from floor-to-ceiling with toys would have no problem attracting a coveted demographic, but Toys R Us has had a tough time rising from the ashes after going under in 2018. Several Toys R Us stores and pop-ups have opened and closed since then, but the brand’s current owners are hoping a new two-level, 20,000 square foot flagship store in New Jersey will have more staying power.
It was just three years ago when Toys R Us closed all of its stores in the United States in mid-2018 and sold off the iconic brand and assets to pay off the company’s longstanding debts. Later that year, it was revealed that an organization called Tru Kids Brand had purchased the rights to the Toys R Us name and in 2019 it announced plans to open a series of smaller mall-based Toys R Us stores that paired a limited selection of curated toys available for purchase with recurring events and brand experiences.
Tru Kids Brand only opened two of these smaller stores in time for the 2019 holiday season in Houston, Texas, and Paramus, New Jersey, but it was far from smooth sailing. It was discovered that at least one of these stores was using a series of sensors in the ceiling to track the movements of customers in order to collect data on what products and displays were most popular, and the retailer declined to comment when Gizmodo reached out asking for more details about how the data was being collected, used, and stored. Thirteen months later, in January of 2021, both of those stores closed within a week of each other—victims of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and competition from online alternatives.
Two months after the store closures, Tru Kids Brand was acquired by a brand acquisition and management firm called WHP Global, who, a few months ago, announced a partnership with Macy’s that would see Toys R Us branded shop-in-shops added to over 400 Macy’s stores across the country starting in 2022. Those who grew up with Toys R Us know the retail chain for its giant stores filled with shelves piled high with every toy imaginable, and that’s apparently what WHP Global has planned next.
Yesterday, it announced that a new two-level Toys R Us flagship store would be opening in mid-December at the American Dream shopping and entertainment complex in Bergen County, New Jersey. The store’s 20,000 square feet of space will not only include toys, but also interactive experiences and opportunities for toymakers to do product demonstrations, a twisty slide connecting both floors, a cafe, and an ice cream parlor. It sounds less like a toy store and more like a miniature Toys R Us-themed amusement park, but that’s not far off from the flagship Toys R Us store that was located in Times Square in New York for many years which included rides as well. Is that what’s needed to bring Toys R Us back to the rest of the country? We’ll know better by late next year if this new Toys R Us experience is still open.