TNI Editorial: Toys R' Us Reopens Store In US, But Is Nostalgia Enough To Save It?!?

by Jay Cochran
December 30, 2021
As we have previously reported here on TNI, Toys R' Us re-opened a new 20,000 square feet flagship store right before Christmas inside American Dream, the entertainment/retail center in Bergen County, New Jersey.

Toys R' Us declared bankruptcy and closed all of it's stores here in the US back in 2018. Since then the name has tried to make a return a few different times, all of which failed. WHP Global, who is the current parent company of Toys"R"Us recently announced plans to return with mini-stores featured at Macy's Department stores and then opened this new flagship store which is the first time we have seen anything come remotely close to resembling the Toys R' Us of old.

If you want to take a look at the new store without having to travel to NJ, then check out this tour video which was filmed on the store's opening day by Transformers aficionado Benson Yee:



Now if you had ever been to the old TRU Flagship store which was located at Times Square in NYC, then you will probably notice some similarities between it and this new one.

Like many adult action figure collectors who grew up during Toys R' Us' heyday, I truly hope WHP is successful in bringing back the TRU name in all it's glory. As I watched Ben's video I could certainly see myself feeling a strong sense of nostalgia... for like maybe 5 minutes. Then reality would start to set in. That the products seen on the shelves of this new store is nothing I couldn't find at any Target or Walmart. Hell some of the stuff seen at this new store was years old and often found at discounters because nobody wanted it the first time around.

While the new store looks modern, it seems to me like they are still operating on the same old failed business model that helped cause them to go out of business in the first place. This idea that young kids are still the primary consumer rushing into a store like this to buy stuff. Now I know this is an idea strongly entrenched into the toy industry as a whole, and I am not suggesting a store like Toys R' Us should completely turn it's back on that demographic. Especially around Christmas time, I am sure it's a demographic a store like TRU needs. However basically totally ignoring the ever growing adult action figure collector market which I would argue has become as important to the toy industry if not more so than the kids one is retail suicide IMO.

Setting aside nostalgia, having another toy retailer powerhouse around to try and loosen the grip that Walmart and Target have gotten on the toy industry since TRU initially folded is a good thing, but I just don't see that happening trying to pretend it's the 80's and 90's when so many more kids were into physical toys for longer periods of time than the are today.

Truth is, the number of adult action figure collectors which is a demographic that has continued to grow while the kids consumer market seemingly has shrunk probably still doesn't have the numbers to offset the loss of those kids who now days quickly move on to electronic devices and cell phones to entertain themselves. I doubt the toy industry will ever experience the type of sales it did back in the 80's and 90's, and perhaps the reality is that the market just can't support a chain of large toy stores anymore, but if Toys R' Us and WHP don't do a better job of competing for that adult action figure demographic, which from what I can tell they have put little to no emphasis on, I would say there is no chance of them getting anywhere close to where they once where. Sure they might be able to keep this one store open banking on nostalgia to keep them afloat with a minor presence at Macy's around the holiday's, but I doubt that is going to give them anywhere near the kind of buying leverage they will need to get toy manufacturers to cater to them in any real way, which would be needed to compete with the likes of Walmart, Target and Amazon.
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Comments...

Last 10 comments - ( Read All Posts )
Spack - 2021-12-31 @ 2:49 pm

Jay C, your editorial is spot on and I could not agree more. As an adult collector, i would check the TRU shelves about once a month only to find the same old selections collecting dust.

The last best find I ever got out of my local TRU was an early wave of the 6 inch black series that contained the first Stormtrooper. I went in to specifically look for this wave a several times in a 2 week span. On the third visit still nothing new on the pegs and as I was walking out I saw a worker's push cart sitting in an unused check out lane between two registers at the end of the row where employees would just throw returns that were to go back on the shelves. I caught a glimpse of a black series box sitting in the bottom section of it and moved in to see what figure it was. It was the stormtrooper.

No doubt there was a TRU employee who collected or knew someone who collected. This also explained why it was rare to find anything I was looking for at this store.

But this time he got careless. I figured he put it aside for himself or someone else and even though it was not on the peg, it was still fair game as it was still in the store. Time to turn the tables. I picked it up off the cart and went straight to an open register, made the purchase and never looked back.

I always wished I could have seen his face when he search his cart or wonder if he ever went as far to check their security footage to see who got it.

Anyway that was a long time ago and I have adjusted to paying a little more for the things I collect by getting them thru internet store like the ones that support this platform instead of fruitless local searches when gas is at 3 bucks a gallon.

ghostbogey - 2021-12-31 @ 10:37 am

I got off the TRU train...."before" they blew up....

One of reason IMHO was how the treated the customer.

Especially when they were the only game in town (rip KB toy)....

Maybe they Learned........Trying the "Walmart" model for Toys...

Goldbug - 2021-12-31 @ 7:25 am
On 12/20/2021 at 3:32 AM, JayC said:

The reality is this store is mostly for show. It's cool to see and certainly hits the ol' nostalgia spot but my guess is there is nothing in that store you wouldn't find in any Walmart or Target. In fact Walmart's and Target's are likely to have more.

TRU has no buying power anymore with the toy manufactures and it's hard to see how they would ever get that back and ever be able to really compete with the likes of Target, Amazon and Walmart. In TRU's hay day they had over 700 large stores in this country which allowed them to leverage exclusives and if TRU carried a toyline, especially around the Holidays it could actually make or break a toyline. That is no longer the case. Towards the end, even with 700 stores TRU found it very difficult to compete with Walmart and Target which had long ago surpassed TRU's buying power for toys. Walmart currently has 4,743 stores in the US and Target has 1,926.

The only thing TRU has going for it is name recognition and nostalgia, which may if they are lucky allow them to eek buy with one store and a small presence at places like Macy's (which in of itself is a struggling dying breed or retail store). But anyone expecting TRU to return in any real way I think is dreaming.

Oh not true Jay, I have never seen quite a selection of Playmobil, Schleich, or Bruder toys anywhere else! It is interesting to see many German brand toys there.It would really be in toy companies best interests if they bought stock in or were part partners with Toys R Us just to dilute the power Walmart has over them.

Outsiders - 2021-12-30 @ 10:00 pm

I've given up on brick and mortar store because it's just not worth it anymore. Between stores that mainly take forever to get new product on the shelves and certain employees cracking cases in the back so they can fill their collection or pocket when they are scalping the goods on eBay. Let's also throw in the price of gas in today's economy. I'm paying $3.11 a gallon right now and I'll be wasting at least a few gallons of gas, plus wear and tear on my car, plus dealing with moron drives and idiot shoppers. You can keep it and I'll stick with online sites and have the product sent directly to my home and pay either a few bucks for shipping or even get it free shipping.

ChrisMOTUFAN - 2021-12-30 @ 7:25 pm

100% with everything you have said in your article Jay. Personally, I feel like trus needs to really learn from past mistakes or it's all quite pointless. I want to see tons of trus stores again so it frustrates me that they still don't get it.

JayC - 2021-12-20 @ 9:32 am

The reality is this store is mostly for show. It's cool to see and certainly hits the ol' nostalgia spot but my guess is there is nothing in that store you wouldn't find in any Walmart or Target. In fact Walmart's and Target's are likely to have more.

TRU has no buying power anymore with the toy manufactures and it's hard to see how they would ever get that back and ever be able to really compete with the likes of Target, Amazon and Walmart. In TRU's hay day they had over 700 large stores in this country which allowed them to leverage exclusives and if TRU carried a toyline, especially around the Holidays it could actually make or break a toyline. That is no longer the case. Towards the end, even with 700 stores TRU found it very difficult to compete with Walmart and Target which had long ago surpassed TRU's buying power for toys. Walmart currently has 4,743 stores in the US and Target has 1,926.

The only thing TRU has going for it is name recognition and nostalgia, which may if they are lucky allow them to eek buy with one store and a small presence at places like Macy's (which in of itself is a struggling dying breed or retail store). But anyone expecting TRU to return in any real way I think is dreaming.

Goldbug - 2021-12-20 @ 2:42 am
6 hours ago, AvengerK2 said:

Finally. The industry needs Toys r us back and target is too unreliable to fill thegap. .

Target???It was Walmart that claimed they would fill the gap but they failed completely on that promise.

AvengerK2 - 2021-12-19 @ 7:55 pm

Finally. The industry needs Toys r us back and target is too unreliable to fill thegap. .

JayC - 2021-12-19 @ 6:34 pm

Earlier this month we told you how Toys R' Us was planning on opening a new 20,000 square feet flagship store inside American Dream, the entertainment/retail center in Bergen County, New Jersey. Well this weekend they opened their doors for that store and are planning a big grand-opening for this coming Tuesday, 12/21/22.

Gold1983 - 2021-12-06 @ 8:28 pm

Bring back Lionel Play world

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