Macy’s partnership marks a new future for Toys R Us

No, the old Toys R Us is not back. But the new Toys R Us has the potential to bring some of the old magic back to life, for both Toys R Us and Macy’s.

Toys R Us’s partnership with Macy’s could help the department store chain regain its “Miracle On 34th Street” status as an essential holiday shopping destination for families.

Macy’s installed 451 Toys R Us-branded toy stores in its stores and kicked off the launch of the stores with the opening of the largest Toys R Us store. at Macy’s Herald Square in New York, on the occasion of a media event on October 13. Macy’s has scheduled events throughout the week in stores across the country to promote toy stores, including today’s birthday celebrations of Toys R Us’s beloved mascot, Geoffrey the giraffe.

Toys R Us is now primarily a licensed property, rather than a merchant, and Macy’s has made the smart strategic decision to link the iconic Toys R Us brand, along with its marketing imagery, and Geoffrey, to the toy stores in its Department stores.

Macy’s partnership will be a test to see if the Toys R Us name sells, even if Toys R Us doesn’t run the stores.

The new toy stores are stocked and operated by Macy’s, while Toys R Us’s role is more that of a licensor, making sure the brand image is protected and effectively presented.

In early 2021, WHP Global, a brand acquisition, investment and management company, acquired a majority stake in TRU Kids, the company that retained the brand rights in Toys R Us’s name and intellectual property. after Toys R Us went bankrupt.

WHP Global President and CEO Yehuda Shmidman, self-described “Toys R Us kid”, said at the time of the acquisition that he saw a great opportunity in being able to leverage the Toys R Us name, a name that still evoked fond memories, and that was seen as a trusted toy authority, despite failure. WHP Global also owns a number of fashion brands, including Anne Klein, Joseph Abboud, and Isaac Mizrahi.

WHP and Macy’s in the summer of 2021 began working together to sell toys online under the name Toys R Us, with Macy’s handling the fulfillment. The partners also announced plans to open Toys R Us stores in Macy’s stores in time for the holiday season of 2022.

The results of the initial online partnership were encouraging enough to convince Macy’s CEO Jeff Gennette and his team to commit to the plan to open in-store toy stores.

In the fourth quarter of 2021, 25% of Macy’s online customers who purchased toys under the Toys R Us partnership were new to the Macy’s site. In the first quarter of 2022, 87% of toy customers cross-shopping with other categories at Macy’s as well.

Even though the official launch of the in-store stores didn’t happen until last week, Macy’s has been setting up toy displays for several months and it seems that the increase in cross-shopping is also happening in stores in the same way it is. success. is happening online.

James Zahn, editor-in-chief of The Toy Book, said he heard that stores that opened new toy departments earlier are already seeing increased sales in adjacent departments, such as children’s clothing.

Gennette has repeatedly stated since partnering with Toys R Us that Macy’s believes that although many toy sales have gone to the big three toy sellers – Walmart
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Target and Amazon
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– after the demise of the old Toys R Us, that there is still a billion dollars worth of toy opportunities up for grabs.

The Herald Square Toys R Us is one of 11 flagship toy stores in Macy’s stores. The Herald Square location is the largest of the stores, at 14,000 square feet, and has photo features like a New York City cab with a statue of Geoffrey as a passenger and a replica of Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade made of Lego. It also has various tables filled with toys for children to play with and spaces for special activities.

Outside of the flagship locations, however, Toys R Us stores could be as small as 1,000 square feet. All Toys R Us branded locations will have Toys R Us signage and images and a bench with a Geoffrey figure sitting on it for photos.

“The flagship stores look very, very good,” Zahn said, and “give a hint of what the partnership could become.” However, he said, “the consumer experience varies widely across Macy’s stores.”

Visitors to off-peak locations might be disappointed if they only find a small assortment of toys located in a dimly lit corner of the store.

Macy’s, however, seems to go out of its way to make stores, not just flagships, a success. In Herald Square, many of the storefronts on 34th Street are promoting the stores, and there is signage throughout the store and on the elevators directing shoppers to the Toys R Us store on the seventh floor.

In two suburban Macy’s, the Westfield Garden State Plaza and Paramus Park shopping malls in Paramus, NJ, the toy stores were still under construction until Friday and were smaller with fewer play areas and interactive features. The shops, however, were prominently promoted with displays near the main entrances.

The real test of the stores this year, said Jim Silver, CEO of toy review site TTPM and TTPM Influencer Talent Management, will be how they meet the demands of holiday shoppers.

“The question that needs to be answered is how much effort they have made from an inventory / ordering perspective. Can they stock up pretty quickly and will they have the hottest items in December? We won’t have these answers until we get closer to the holiday season, ”Silver said.

The partnership between Macy’s and Toys R Us was praised by toy manufacturers at the opening event.

The stores, said Sydney Wiseman, vice president of brand development and creative strategy at toy company Wowwee, offer families something they can’t get when shopping online: a place where kids can play, see and touch. toys.

Wiseman, who was at the opening of Herald Square, said she was impressed with the look of the store and how it captured the excitement of the Toys R Us brand. “Toys R Us is why I’m in this business, because every Sunday my grandfather would take me to Toys R Us and let me pick a toy,” she said.

Wiseman also said she was impressed with the effort Macy’s made to work with toy makers to stock the right bestseller stores. Wowwee gave Macy’s a month of exclusive on one of the newest items in its popular line of fashion dolls My Avastars.

Jim Silver doesn’t expect Macy’s stores to steal significant market share from the big three toy sellers – Walmart, Target and Amazon – but they will benefit from Macy’s toy sales.

“What these toy stores get is that they provide the Macy’s shopper and the mall shopper with a toy department to shop in-store while they visit these places,” Silver said. “It’s not destination stores like Toys R Us’s large independent locations that have attracted shoppers to shop strictly there.”

Zahn of The Toy Books sees the stores as a sign that Macy’s could go back to the days when a trip to Herald Square or other historic department stores (like Marshall Field – now owned by Macy’s) was a vacation must.

Before the original Toys R Us superstores and wholesalers, “vacation shopping at classy department stores was an American tradition,” and the toy departments in those stores were a big part of what attracted families and shoppers, Zahn said.

If Macy’s Toys R Us stores are able to offer a great shopper experience this season, that could help revive the tradition of department store shopping, he said.

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