What Happened To Toys "R" Us? The Magical Place, No More?

Source: Retail Sector


When you think of toys, you think of Toys “R” Us. The American toy company is deeply engraved into our childhood memories and so when in 2018 they closed all of their stores, it came as a huge shock to everyone, or should it have?

In this mini-article, we look into what exactly happened to Toys “R” Us, and if there was any hope for the once magical place.

Off to a good start

Founded in 1948 by Charles Lazarus, Toys "R" Us was in the toy business for more than 70 years, employing 64,000 people in 800 stores in the United States and 800 more Worldwide. So, what went wrong? 

At its peak, the toy store was considered a category killer, but with the rise of big supermarkets and online retailers, Toys "R" Us lost its way and a share of the toy market. The early signs of their demise came in 1998 when Walmart surpassed them as the top US toy seller.

Inside toy store

 Source: Desmoinesregister

Changing with the times

Knowing that they needed an online presence, in 2000 they looked to Amazon and began a 10-year partnership that would see them become their exclusive seller of toys. Its success was ultimately its undoing as Amazon then sneakily began expanding their toy category that included Toys "R" Us competitors. This led to a successful court case against the e-commerce giant, and their deal was terminated. 

However the damage had already been done, it was too little too late for Toys “R” Us when they eventually launched their own website, and attempts later in 2009 with purchases of Etoys.com and Toys.com yielded further little success. 

Stores going digital wasn’t the only problem, so were the toys! We are all aware of the shift in kids toys and gifts into tech, with birthday and christmas presents now consisting of virtual reality headsets, drones and tablets. This wasn’t an area Toys "R" Us were overly an expert in, and with cost cutting measures affecting the in-store experience, the magical place was no more.

Digital toys

 Photo by Emily Wade on Unsplash  


Fast forward to 2016 and it was reported that the chain lost significant traction to the likes of Amazon, Target and Walmart. A year on and Toys "R" Us filed for bankruptcy. Stores permanently closed across the US and by February 2018 in the UK.

Back with a catch

Remarkably the brand was brought back to life in 2019 when purchased by Tru Kids. Pop-up locations gave them a selected physical presence during the holiday shopping season, as well as online - but there was a catch. You couldn't actually buy anything directly from the website, you were instead sent to one of the big supermarkets (and later Amazon) to complete your order. 

It gets worse before it gets better

For many businesses, the COVID-19 pandemic was a sucker punch to the stomach and for Toys “R” Us it was no different. The two remaining US stores were once again forced to close earlier this year due to financial losses caused by the virus.

However, just recently there has been new hope given to the failing brand, with the controlling company - WHP Global, announcing in August that Toys “R” Us would be inside 400+ Macy's stores starting in 2022!

But what about the UK? I hear you cry. Unfortunately, you can’t ship across the pond at www.toysrus.com and as of yet, there are no plans for any UK stores. Thankfully, we have arrived on the scene just in time to fulfill all of your toy needs. 

The magical place

To leave you with a blast of nostalgia, take a look at this iconic christmas TV advert from Toys “R” Us back in 1989! 

If you enjoyed this article, then we think you’ll love this success story of Lego and how they managed to turn around their fortunes unlike Toys “R” Us.

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