The brick-and-mortar experience of Toys“R”Us most millennials remember from childhood — with its massive supply and aisles upon aisles of toys — is looking likely to become a relic of a bygone era in retail.
According to the recently bankrupt brand’s CEO, David Brandon, Toys“R”Us will be shrinking its stores in favor of small locations and revamping its larger outlets through the bankruptcy restructuring process.
In describing the turnaround for the struggling specialty retailer, a plan called “Project Sunrise,” Brandon said the company would focus on integrating online and in-store shopping experiences. He also noted faster shipping, tech upgrades and improved customer service were on the docket, as were wage increases for the chain’s employees.
The new direction will involve some out-of-the-box thinking, including a Times Square pop-up store featuring New York City-style subway logos and a lucky employee dressed up as the store’s mascot, Geoffrey the giraffe.
“I‘m getting ideas for Christmas,” said shopper Katie Reed of Jackson, New Jersey, adding she was surprised the retailer filed for bankruptcy. “The selection at Walmart and Target is not as big.”
And, while these Project Sunshine ideas are interesting, the outcomes of bankruptcy remain rather unknown. Toys“R”Us, though, would like to use it to “return to the chain’s more experiential roots,” according to Brandon.
The chain’s older, suburban, brick-and-mortar, big-box shops will also be redone to give kids a chance to try out toys in the store.
“[We want] toys out of the box and into the hands of kids,” Brandon said. “We know we need to do it. We haven’t had the capital to do it.”
To make that happen, those older shops will need new lighting and revamped floor plans to accommodate increased activity in the coming “play zones” Toys“R”Us is considering. Ideas include areas like target ranges.
Brandon explained the chain does not intend to close a “disproportionate” number of its more than 1,600 stores across the country, but did note it would be closing those that are actively losing money. He also said Toys“R”Us would like to add smaller, more urban-tailored environments to its repertoire.