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Toys ‘R’ Us is back, and it’s smaller than ever

Toys ‘R’ Us is back, and it’s smaller than ever
[Photo: Jim Steinfeldt/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images]

Just a year after filing for bankruptcy, vacating more than 800 stores, and laying off 33,000 people, Toys “R” Us may be gearing up for a comeback.

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The retail company will open half a dozen U.S. locations this holiday season, as well as launch an online shop, Bloomberg reported Friday, citing sources familiar with the plans.

However, the new stores won’t be like the cavernous spaces they used to occupy. Instead, they are downsizing to 10,000 square feet, saving room for play areas in order to enhance the shopping experience. Stores may also implement a consignment inventory model whereby toymakers will only get paid for goods they’ve shipped if the consumers actually buy them.

Earlier this year, it was reported that former executives for Toys “R” Us established a company called Tru Kids Brands with an aim to bring back the retailer in some form.

Reached for comment, a spokesperson for Tru Kids Brands told Fast Company, “We aren’t in a position to publicly share details on our US strategy at this time.”

When Toys “R” Us went out of business in 2018 after 70 years, fans of the brand called it the death of childhood as they knew it, with some pointing the finger at Amazon. But the “retail apocalypse” notwithstanding, Toys “R” Us had money problems that stretched back years. It was saddled with debt in a private-equity buyout in 2005 and never recovered. Moreover, a consumer survey last year in the wake of Toys “R” Us’s demise found that people who like the brand generally preferred going to brick-and-mortar stores like Walmart and Target, rather than buying on Amazon.

Today’s development may further signal that in an increasingly digitized consumer culture, shoppers are yearning for less screen time and more Tom Hanks dancing on a giant piano, giving us heart and soul.

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