I'll say this for Toys R Us, they keep on coming back. Several news outlets are reporting that Toys R Us will be in business for this coming Christmas season. New York Post writer, Lisa Fickenscher, tells us that the retailer "…plans to open a handful of US stores in time for the holidays that will span about 10,000 square feet each…" That is a far cry from the almost 900 U.S. locations the company had at its peak when its stores ran from 20,000 to 50,000 square feet.
All of this raises four questions:
1. Will the industry take this new venture seriously?
2. Will a "handful of stores" provide them with the buying leverage they require to be competitive?
3. Will the industry have confidence in the same management team that took the former Toys R us into bankruptcy?
4. Will there be a new business model or will it be business as usual?
Toys R Us stores, prior to the bankruptcy, provided a bad and sad shopping experience. From their potholed parking lots to their unclean store aisles to their less than helpful or knowledgable staff, they provided an unpleasant shopping experience. On top of that, their merchandise selection was predictable with a focus on providing the lowest price rather than on offering the broadest and most interesting toy selection.
So, it is question number four that intrigues me the most. Richard Barry and his team are long-time Toys R Us veterans. Will they attempt to run this new iteration of Toys R Us in the same manner as they did the old one? Will they believe that the company went bankrupt due to too much debt or will they recognize that the company had lost its way and as a result its customers? In short, will it learn from its mistakes and offer a truly new Toys R Us?
Richard Barry and his team may well find success with this new venture but they have a lot to prove to an industry that has learned the hard way that it can if it has to, live without them.