Toys "R" Us could be set for a comeback in the United States if the chain store's new owners get their way. For many children of the '80s and '90s, visiting Toys "R" Us was an integral part of childhood and visiting the store itself was as vital to the overall experience as buying the item you wanted in the first place. A series of memorable TV advertisements and the popularity of mascot Geoffrey the Giraffe only served to embed the Toys "R" Us brand further into the social consciousness of the pre-internet era.
Unfortunately, crippling debt and the rapid rise of competition from large supermarket chains and online retailers saw Toys "R" Us fall upon hard times and in June last year, the famous brand finally closed the last of its stores in the United States. Now controlled by the company's former creditors, Toys "R" Us is undergoing intensive restructuring, after it was announced that the brand itself would be kept alive due to having a certain recognizable quality as a global retailer. Under the Tru Kids Brands umbrella, Toys "R" Us has been making preparations for a comeback, hosting some pop-up "Geoffrey's Toy Box" stores throughout the festive period and moving towards opening new stores in Asia.
Building upon that success, CNN is now reporting that Toys "R" Us ultimately plan to bring back both physical and online stores to the U.S. market, although there is no timescale to suggest when that could happen. Additionally, there are also plans to eventually move the brand back into the U.K. and Australia. Current CEO and former Chief Merchandising Officer, Richard Barry, claims:
"We have significant interest about how to bring the brand back to the U.S. We're talking to a whole series of different companies, some are existing retailers, some tech companies. We're working 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to bring it to life. At this point we're not ready commit to what that might look like."
Shoppers of a certain age will no doubt be delighted to hear that Geoffrey the Giraffe is staunchly refusing to die, clinging onto life like something out of The Walking Dead, and it's reassuring that the company is not rushing the process by putting in place ambitious target dates. If the Toys "R" Us brand is to return with any sort of sustainability, the chain's reputation essentially has to built from the ground up, almost like a brand new company, and develop in a natural and gradual way.
Obviously, Toys "R" Us have the distinct advantage of being a recognizable name and while the debt that originally helped drive the company into administration is no longer an issue, the stiff competition certainly is. Toys "R" Us are far from the only retail brand to fall victim to the cheaper prices and home delivery options offered to customers online and while shoppers may have a nostalgic fondness for Toys "R" Us, the appeal of retailers like Amazon will continue to be a problem for the company if they do return to U.S. shores.