When news broke that Toys “R” Us was closing up shop last year, the kid in all of us died a little. But it wasn’t long before we were given a new hope when we learned that the toy store chain wasn’t going down without a fight.
Well, the reports of the brick-and-mortar retailer’s death were greatly exaggerated, as Toys “R” Us parent company Tru Kids Brands announced on Thursday that it has partnered with tech retailer b8ta to open new stores across the U.S. These new Toys “R” Us stores will offer a more interactive and playground-like environment, where kids can not only see the toys displayed out of the box, but also play with them prior to purchasing. Children can also visit different “brand stations” and have fun in the open play space. New events and activites will take place each day at the stores as well.
“We have an incredible opportunity to entirely reimagine the Toys “R” Us brand in the U.S. and are thrilled to partner with b8ta and key toy vendors to create a new, highly-engaging retail experience designed for kids, families and to better fit within today’s retail environment,” said Richard Barry, CEO of Tru Kids and Interim co-CEO of the new Toys “R” Us joint venture in a statement.
Phillip Raub, co-founder and president of b8ta and Interim co-CEO of the Toys “R” Us joint venture, added: “As the retail landscape changes, so do consumer shopping habits. But what hasn’t changed is that kids want to touch everything and simply play.”
Tru Kids and b8ta will open the first two new Toys “R” Us stores – one in The Galleria in Houston, Texas, and the other in Westfield Garden State Plaza in Paramus, New Jersey – during the holidays. The companies plan to open more locations in the U.S. over the course of 2020.
The retail giant announced in March 2018 that it had filed for bankruptcy and would be closing all of its 800 locations in the United States. But former CEO Jerry Storch announced that summer that he was exploring a possible "reboot" for the chain. Toys "R" Us canceled plans for a bankruptcy option in the hopes of a reorg plan in the fall.