PARAMUS, NJ - Garden State Plaza will be home to one of two new Toys R Us stores that will open as part of a small comeback by the defunct iconic toy chain in November.
On Thursday, Richard Barry, a former Toys R Us executive and now chief exeuective officer of Tru Kids Brands, a new Parsippany-based company, said more details will be released in coming weeks about the stores.
Tru Kids Brands said it has entered a partnership with a startup called b8ta, an experiential retailer to launch what Barry calls an interactive store experience based on a consignment model. Toymakers will pay for space in the stores but will get all the sales. The tech company will also offer brands access to data that will track traffic patterns and other metrics, according to a press release from the company.
"As a kid, my memory of Toys R Us was running up and down the aisles kicking balls and playing with the coolest toys," said Phillip Raub, co-founder and president of b8ta and Interim co-chief executive officer of the Toys R Us joint venture. "As the retail landscape changes, so do consumer shopping habits. But what hasn't changed is that kids want to touch everything and simply play. In partnership with Richard and his team, we are excited to bring back Toys"R"Us in an immersive way, focused on creating a fun and engaging experience for kids-and adults, too."
In addition to the Paramus location, there are plans to open a Toys R Us store in The Galleria Mall in Houston. The first two locations will be about 6,500 square feet — a fraction of the brand's former big box stores. Barry noted stores opening later will be about 10,000 square feet, according to the press release.
Toys R Us, buckling under pressure from Amazon and several billions of dollars of debt, liquidated its U.S. business as well as other regions months after filing for Chapter 11 reorganization in the fall of 2017.
Barry and several other former Toys R Us executives founded Tru Kids in January and are now managing the Toys R Us, Babies R Us and Geoffrey brands. Tru Kids is working with licensing partners to open about 70 stores this year in Asia, India and Europe. Outside the U.S., Toys R Us continues to operate about 800 stores and in 2018, it generated $3 billion in global retail sales.
Barry said, "With a 70 year heritage, the Toys R Us brand is beloved by kids and families around the world, and continues to play a leading role in the hearts and minds of today's consumers. We have an incredible opportunity to entirely reimagine the Toys R Us brand in the U.S. and are thrilled to partner with b8ta and key toy vendors to create a new, highly-engaging retail experience designed for kids, families and to better fit within today's retail environment."