Everyone in the toy industry, and I mean everyone, is a
stakeholder in Toys R Us. They are the
biggest pure toy and play retailer in the world and all of our fortunes
are inextricably locked together with theirs.
That is why the decision by Toys R Us to withdraw its IPO
coupled with its continuing leadership uncertainty creates queasiness in many play
industry members. The company, it seems, is still looking for
how best to operate in a 21st century economy that just won’t stand
still. But, how do you know what to do next
when all the parts of our once familiar economic models seemed to be floating?
One writer, Carol Roth, has some ideas on what
the company needs to change in order to resume a strong growth trend. In a CNBC article, “Toys R Us Needs a
Business Model Makeover,” Roth points out how entertaining it used to be to
walk the aisles of a Toys R Us. There
were so many toys that it was a real trip (in both senses of the word) to just
visit the store.
That’s all changed because, as she puts
it: “Toys R Us has lost its relevance.
While it used to be entertainment to shop the store, now with so many other
sources of entertainment, there is no critical pull into the Toys R Us store.”
She suggests that if toys statically placed
on shelves don’t entertain any more than why not actually entertain. Here are her suggestions:
Create an area for “interactive
experiences. She sites American Girl stores
as a model for this approach.
Create a place for in-store birthday party
events. This is a great idea and one
that Toys R Us actually executed about ten years ago in its experimental
Geoffrey stores. I remember
in North Carolina and being impressed with how much pride the store manager
took in that innovation.