Toys R Us was once a childhood mecca: a fanciful warehouse of magnificent toys from bikes to board games, dolls to radio-controlled cars. Unfortunately, its heyday is long gone and not that long ago, the chain had to shut its doors from bankruptcy. However, it appears that the company is not quite ready to disappear from the retail space. If you shop at a Kroger store this holiday season, you might recognize a familiar face gracing the aisles.
That’s because Toys R Us mascot Geoffrey the Giraffe is making an appearance, setting up “Geoffrey’s Toy Box” in nearly 600 Kroger stores across 30 states. The largest supermarket chain in the United States is actually only the latest to attempt at assuaging shoppers from the struggling company. With Walmart and Target both expanding their toy sections—and with Amazon sending actual physical toy catalogs to members this year—this retail may, in fact, be more competitive than ever!
But this move, by Kroger, is not as much of a surprise as you might think. In April, Geoffrey showed up unexpectedly at a trade show, possibly sent by a group of lenders who control Toys R Us’ intellectual property (branding and marketing concepts, etc). Many theorized this was the beginning of a transformation.
Then, just last month, a new company called “Geoffrey LLC” was formed. The money that was supposed to take control of the ex-retailer’s assets reversed their plans to auction off the intellectual property. Instead, it seems they wanted to resurrect the brand: hence “Geoffrey LLC”.
Now, “Geoffrey LLC” is showing up at Kroger stores this holiday season. The venture will open Geoffrey’s Toy Box at Kroger supermarkets in order to sell toys from former Toys R Us private labels. This includes brands you might recognize—and be a fan of—including Imaginarium, Edu Science, Just Like Home, Zone, Journey Girls, and You & Me. These toys will retail at prices between $20 and $50.
While this move is certainly beneficial for the retailer, it probably does not bode very well with the 33,000 [former] Toys R Us who have all been laid off without severance since the company filed for bankruptcy.