Iconic Toy Store Finally Makes Comeback After Bankruptcy

in Entertainment, Events

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Credit: ITM

The love for 80s and 90s pop culture has been the bedrock of the Millennial generation nostalgia, along with Generation Z.  Currently, the decade to resurge in popularity has been the 90s. Everything from the fashion revival of baggy jeans and grunge flannel to NSYNC reuniting, the trendiness of 90s culture is at an all-time high. The latest comeback will now be the cherished chain of toy stores where “A kid can be a kid.” Toys “R” Us has finally resurrected its way back into the world.

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Toys “R” Us was originally founded in 1948 by Charles Lazarus (haha the irony with that last name). He sought to capitalize on the “Baby Boom” post-World War II when many Americans shifted their focus from war to settling down. The company would initially begin as a baby goods and furniture store. However, the rise in toy manufacturing in the 50s switched the company model to selling popular toys.

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The success of the toy store was due to its brilliant marketing. Toys “R” Us would hire star athletes like Magic Johnson to be the ambassador for their stores as well as the face of sponsored kid charities. Toys “R” Us also partnered with Nickelodeon to do a series of shorts called Nickelodeon’s Super Toy Run.

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This would become the pinnacle of 90s kid wish fulfillment. Children could enter to be contestants where each racer was given five minutes to stuff their shopping cart with as many toys as they could fit. The show would be massively popular and solidify Toys “R” Us as the toy store to visit.

Throughout the 80s and 90s, Toys “R” Us would be seen as the best place to buy the latest Transformer, G.I. Joe, Barbie, then later Elmo, Power Rangers and Pikachu. Lazarus would expand the company with spinoff stores such as Kids “R’ Us and Babies “R” Us that focused on clothing. These were also equally successful for the franchise.

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While the 90s were a glorious period for the company, it would be short-lived one. Rising competitors like Wal-Mart and Target would evolve their toy section with marked-down prices. This quickly shifted consumers’ attention as Toys “R” Us had the highest retail prices. Then the rise of Amazon would be the final nail in the coffin.

Toys “R” Us would struggle to stay afloat during the 2000s and 2010s. Their plummeting sales would force them to finally file for bankruptcy in 2017, then close permanently in 2018. It was the end of an era as the company closed down all of its stores, leaving 33,000 employees jobless.

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Credit: Forbes

WHP Global would acquire Toy “R” Us in 2021. They have now revealed plans to reopen multiple toy store franchises within various airports and cruise ships. Additionally, they will open up to 24 flagship locations as a trial run for its viability.

Dallas Fort Worth International Airport will be the first airport to house a Toys “R” Us which will debut in November 2023. As for cruise ships, WHP Global has yet to state which cruise lines Toys “R” Us will call home, but that they will sell products with a cruise theme. The 24 flagship stores are scheduled to open during the 2024 holiday season under a new agreement with Go! Retail Groups.

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Credit: Lady G

Chairman and CEO of WHP Global, Yehuda Shmidman, has claimed that their acquisition of the legendary toy store has extended its worldwide retail footprint by more than 50% with more than 1,400 locations and e-commerce sites in 31 countries. This achievement has prompted WHP Global to take this risk. One flagship Toys “R” Us shop was already constructed at the New Jersey American Dream Mall in 2022 to commemorate its impending return to the US.

What do you think of Toys “R” Us’ comeback? Can they survive again? 

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