KB Toys is coming back. The company looks to rise from the ashes of Toys R Us after their own demise back in 2009. Almost a decade later, they aim to have pop-up stores open for this upcoming holiday season. Even more ambitious plans are afoot for after that, as detailed in a digital conference call that took place at Playcon in San Francisco this week. Some highlights:
– Their goal is to have 400-600 pop-up shops running by the holidays. They have a number of key people involved with Toys R Us working with them, and the new business will be operated out of New Jersey since that is where a lot of those people are now. The goal is for these seasonal KB Toys stores to become permanent stores after the holidays. Decisions will be made after the holidays on a store-by-store basis. Their long-term goal is to have 300-400 permanent stores within four years.
– It seems like quite a bit of the funding is coming from mall companies themselves to try to get toy stores back into their malls in effort to increase foot traffic.
– Each store will have a "Toy Nerd" (terrible name) whose job will be to have vast knowledge of the toy industry and and what is hot on the collectors market to assist in purchases. Seriously — work on that name, people.
– KB Toys will be working with local toy groups to host events in store, along with companies for more in-store experiences including autograph signings, vendor roadshows, and toy designer meet-and-greets and Q&As.
– They also want to open some stores the size of regular Toys R Us stores that will include cafés, play areas, party rooms, party registries, and the ability to place online orders in-store for pickup. They also plan on building a state-of-the-art online store and presence that TRU for sure lacked towards the end.
This is all good in theory, but I am still in "believe it when I see it" mode. It would be awesome if it all plays out this way. The world needs toy stores for kids to walk into and escape from the world for a while, and online shopping does not fill that need. If TRU's death has a silver lining, this could be it — for youngsters and collectors both.