Wednesday, September 20

The Death of the Toy Store?


(3.15.18...an update to this post...the brand announced that it’s now closing all of its US stores.)

The news of Toys 'R Us going into bankruptcy brought back so many memories for me. While it's not the first time we've heard the business was in trouble, it did make me realize that the toy store of lore is no longer alive.

And that's a little sad.

When I was a kid growing up in Syracuse, NY, we went to THE toy store. It was in a round building and it was chock full of toys and bikes. No electronics back in my day. Then when I started my career in marketing on Johnson's Baby Products, Toys 'R Us was one of our biggest clients. I was marketing baby wipes at the time (can you imagine me kid-less at 26 marketing baby wipes) and the retailer had a big section of diapers and wipes. I was there all the time.

Then when I had kids of my own, my credit card was constantly swiping out at Toys 'R Us as a weekend destination and also at FAO Schwarz for holiday and summer road trips into New York City. Toy stores were magical and mystical, and it was such a treat to take the kids there. I was hoping to go back again with the next generation of my family some day.

But then along came Walmart and Target and other retailers offline and then on that simply ate the toy stores' lunch. Clearly the small business owners couldn't keep up but evidently the big toy guys struggled too.They evidently couldn't survive the pricing and convenience of the likes of these giant retailers and then of course the Amazon effect.

It's a bit sad, if I am to tell the truth. But it's a good lesson learned not only in proper financial management but also in staying relevant to your consumer and to the times. Keeping up not only with the competition but also keeping one step ahead of the needs in the market. Creating an in store experience, and online for that matter, that matters to shoppers. And experience that they can't live without rather than simply a toy that's a click and a ship away. The toy store brands needed to be better destinations than that.

There's the miss. And a watch out for all of us marketers.

What's your experience? JIM

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