I have not seen much written yet from a retailers perspective around the liquidation of all Toys R Us stores. I can understand why Walmart, Target, Amazon and other major retailers would not speak or even speculate on this subject. They really can’t gain much but my hunch is they will be prepping for an even bigger surge of shopping on line this holiday season.
So what does an independent toy store think? To be honest, it’s a mixed feeling. On a personal level (after 22 years of competing with them) I feel like our model and strategy has won, however, I too shopped there when my kids were little and they are pleasant memories. Bikes, strollers, Teenage Mutant Turtles and dolls were on our list.
But, here’s the way I really feel. The customer votes with their dollars and despite the debt or any other reason people are saying they went bankrupt doesn’t matter. The sales were not enough to compensate for their organizational structure and business model. Smart(?) people, but bad model. If I were to arrange my business like they had, I would be long gone. Nobody would care either. That’s business.
But, even without the debt overhang, the Toys R Us model was relatively easy to compete against. On one hand they wanted to be price competitive on line (and somewhat in store) and they kept saying “we want to have a great in store experience” but they did not execute. Now, I am a bricks and mortar toy store (we sell on line but modestly) and I know how hard it is to execute the in store experience. Every day, every customer, every transaction— very hard. But I also know I have no choice because if you aren’t great at one thing and get caught in the middle like Toys R Us, you will loose. They lost.
This current situation actually wants me to work harder, finding new ways and ideas to up our game and provide a new type of in store toy experience. We have a solid plan of best team members (educated, incentives, friendly, compensated), curated product selection (but also stocking what kids want and stressing new toys first to shelf), and all done in a WOW environment. But, I know we need to do more. YouTube, social media, sourcing directly from China, and a wider age range of gifts is allowing us to widen our age range and have gifts for 1-103 years! The product pipeline is solid from what I see.
The bottom line for me– keep executing but continue to morph and adapt to kids and Mom’s. Some new retail breakthroughs will occur and we are ready because we have no debt and are ready to invest. Thank you Toys R Us for even more motivation. I can’t wait to see how the great independent toy retailers will evolve over the next 5-10 years. Come along for the ride. A new generation of kids will experience an even better toy experience creating many memories.