See inside the Toys R Us revival's first new store, where sensors track kids as they play with toys before purchase
Shoshy Ciment/Business Insider
- Toys R Us is back from the dead with a new store in New Jersey after the toy retailer closed all its US locations in the summer of 2018.
- Tru Kids was created to resurrect the brand this year and is in the process of opening new stores across the country.
- We visited the Toys R Us in the Westfield Garden State Plaza mall in Paramus, New Jersey in advance of its Wednesday opening and saw a comforting blend of nostalgia and newness that might propel the brand to a long life after death.
- The store was packed with toys from huge brands as well as sensors discreetly located in the ceiling of the store that monitor store monitor customer engagement in various areas.
- Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.
Toys R Us is officially back from the dead.After closing all its US locations in the summer of 2018, the toy retailer was resurrected by Tru Kids Inc. earlier this year. The company has partnered with experiential retailer B8ta to open two new stores in high-end malls in Houston, Texas, and Paramus, New Jersey with plans to have at least 10 stores open by the end of next year.Advertisement
"What an amazing opportunity to take an amazing brand like Toys R Us, start with a clean sheet of paper, and draw a store and bring it to life," said Richard Barry, the CEO of Tru Kids Brands and Toys R Us' former chief marketing officer. "How cool is that?"
The Toys R Us store in Westfield Garden State Plaza mall in Paramus, New Jersey officially opens on November 30. At around 6,000 square feet, the store is smaller than the classic Toys R Us store of yesteryear. It is also significantly more conscious of the generation in which it lives.Sensors discreetly located in the store monitor customer engagement in various areas - a feature that is powered by B8ta. And while the store features classic toys and brands like Barbie and Lego, it also boasts some more modern merchandise, most obviously in its Nintendo section.
While toys in the store are available for purchase, Tru Kids will not make any direct money from the sales, which will all go directly to the manufacturers. Instead, the Tru Kids charges manufacturers a fee to sell goods in Toys R Us locations.Toys R Us' new website, which was relaunched in October, is powered by Target and the new stores make use of this feature as well. Though shoppers can pick toys off the shelves, they can also order items online in the store via screen kiosks in various sections.We visited the new Toys R Us store in Paramus, New Jersey in advance of its opening to see how it compares to its former self. We were surprised to find a comforting blend of nostalgia and new that might be able to propel the brand to long-term life after death.Advertisement
Here's what we saw:
We traveled by bus to get to the Westfield Garden State Plaza mall in Paramus, New Jersey.
The Toys R Us was located next to the AMC movie theater.Advertisement
We walked inside and found ourselves enveloped in what could only be described as a toy wonderland, complete with fake clouds on the ceiling and a treehouse in the center of the store.
A stuffed Geoffrey the Giraffe — the Toys R Us mascot — greeted us at the front.Advertisement
We noticed that the store was divided into different sections of play based on brands.
We started near the front of the store, which had a station devoted to Kinetic Sand.Advertisement
In this station, there was a sandbox that let customers stop by and play with the sand themselves.
Nearby, we found an area devoted to merchandise from the hit kid's show, "Paw Patrol."Advertisement
We noticed that there were different screen kiosks located throughout the store, which were meant to assist shoppers in finding items online if they were not in the store.
The kiosk led us to the Toys R Us website, which is powered by Target, and allowed us to scroll through pages of toys.Advertisement
The Lego section featured a massive Lego man made from smaller Lego pieces.
There were a bunch of different Lego sets on display, but the coolest part of this section was an experiential table that let us build our own creations in the store.Advertisement
A large part of this store was focused on experience and play. In the Nintendo section, shoppers had the chance to test out some gaming systems on a large screen or handheld device.
And in the Nerf section, there was a target practice lane behind a glass wall ...Advertisement
... where people could test out different toys before buying them.
One of the cooler experiential parts of this store was the Magical Mirror, which used motion sensors to mimic our movements and display them onto the figure of Geoffrey the Giraffe.Advertisement
Nearby, we found a theater space in the middle of the store where people could watch different live events or movies while shopping.
The experiential elements were probably the store's biggest asset. The detailed design elements — like this victorious Mario in the Nintendo section — were up there as well.Advertisement
A massive, climbable tree house marked the center of the store.
Through we had to duck to crawl up the stairs, it seemed like the perfect attraction to find in a toy store.Advertisement
Shoppers who made it to the top could ring a little bell of victory that could be heard through the whole store.
A little reading nook surrounded the tree house and contained shelves of classic and modern books.Advertisement
As we continued through the store, we were shocked to find so many brands that we recognized from our childhood. We saw everything from Barbie ...
... to Play-Doh ...Advertisement
... to this Alphabet Apple from VTech.
Despite the experiential and technological add-ons, so much of this Toys R Us felt like a nostalgic blast from the past.Advertisement
But amid all the classic brands and toys, we found some merchandise that was more culturally relevant to today as well.
This Toys R Us was successful because it combined both of these aspects — nostalgia and newness — something Tru Kids CEO Richard Barry said was an intentional blend.Advertisement
Though smaller than the classic big-box Toys R Us stores of the past, this store succeeded in creating an exciting play-zone for people to interact with the toys they love.
All the while, sensors discreetly located in the store monitored customer engagement in various areas — a feature that is powered by B8ta and helps the company determine which areas of the store are the most successful.Advertisement
Toys R Us as we once knew it might be dead. But this new store concept, though different, might be able to propel the brand to long-term life after death.
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