The reincarnated version of Toys “R” Us is opening two stores this holiday season as a testing ground, with the hope of scaling up to 10 locations by the end of 2020.
The company will open 6,500-square-foot stores at malls in Houston and Paramus, New Jersey, in a joint venture with retailer b8ta Inc. A key part of their strategy is to provide “Instagram-able” experiences to lure shoppers into the new locations, including photo ops with Geoffrey the Giraffe, birthday parties and other events, Tru Kids Brands CEO Richard Barry said in a phone interview.
The stores will also feature “brand shop” areas where kids can test out new products.
Phillip Raub, the co-founder and president of b8ta, called the store test a “blueprint,” and said future locations may be bigger.
“We do anticipate that the sweet spot’s going to be a little bit closer to about 10,000 square feet with the idea next year that we will really be penetrating major markets,” he said in an interview.
He said there are already talks about non-mall locations for the new stores they’re looking to open next year. The brand’s relaunch comes more than a year after the shuttering of its U.S. operations.
Toys “R” Us’s demise left a huge hole for companies such as Hasbro Inc. and Mattel Inc. and helped spark double-digit share declines for the toy companies in 2018. The toy retailer had been generating about $7 billion in annual sales in the U.S. at more than 700 locations, including its Babies “R” Us brand.