Toys ‘R’ Us is making a comeback after filing for bankruptcy and closing all stores a year-and-a-half ago. But the new Toys ‘R’ Us is not going to be the massive store loaded with aisle after aisle of toys that you remember.
Instead, a reimagined version of toy retailer is resurfacing with smaller, interactive shops. Two of these new Toys ‘R’ Us stores are opening before Black Friday, with locations set to make their debuts in Houston, Texas, at The Galleria, and in Paramus, New Jersey, at Westfield Garden State Plaza.
The chain, now owned by a parent company Tru Kids, is partnering with B8ta, a firm dedicated to providing service-based shopping experiences that allow for testing products and streamlined shopping by combining technology with traditional brick-and-mortar browsing.
The revamped Toys ‘R’ Us shops will be about six times smaller than the previous typical stores, which occupied roughly 40,000 square feet. There will be hands-on areas where people can actually play with the toys and see demonstrations, as well as new digital experiences. CEO and president of Toys ‘R’ Us, Richard Barry, told CNN that there will even be a huge treehouse inside a new store that kids can climb. Interactive toy displays, theaters, and video games are all a part of the revitalized locations.
Phillip Raub, cofounder and president of B8ta, expects 10 more of these Toys ‘R’ Us locations to open by the end of 2020, according to Forbes. The toy store will is marketing itself differently, too. Now, the brand is trying to become known as a place to discover new toys as opposed to shopping for ones you’ve already heard about.
Some merchandise will be available on-site to purchase, but inventory will be limited. Customers will be able to shop to their heart’s content and order all available products online at screens and kiosks throughout the store. The beloved mascot Geoffrey the Giraffe is still a staple of the 62-year-old brand, and a giant figure will be on display right when customers walk into stores.
Earlier this year, Toys ‘R’ Us launched a pop-up exhibit called Toys ‘R’ Us Adventure that’s still open until January 5 in its current locations in Atlanta and Chicago. According to its website, the exhibit is a “totally immersive, fill-up-your-photo-album super-experience.” There are eight rooms in the “indoor playland” with interactive installations based on toy brands the company sells. Tickets cost $20 for children and $28 for adults.