Playcon is an annual toy industry convention, in which the industry’s biggest players gather to discuss the future of the business. This year, Playcon live streamed the Toy Association’s free industry open forum on retail disruption and a changing marketplace. On hand was founder of Strategic Marks, LLC Ellia Kassoff. Strategic Marks is the company behind the resurgence of KB Toys. Kassoff gave the crowd a little information about how KB Toys will be making their comeback.
If you want to read a synopsis without watching the video above, check out some of the highlights below!
Kassoff says that the goal is to bring back KB Toys so it is just the way that people remember it, while giving it a modern upgrade. He says that it will be an 80/20 split with the majority being they way you remembered it. They want the experience that adults had as kids at KB Toys, to be there just like they remember it.
They will start by hiring the key group of people at Toys R’ Us, which they have already been talking with. They will start with 300-400 pop-up stores during this holiday season. The pop-up store idea is twofold. It is a quick way to get out there, but also a quick way to test each market. At the end of January they will evaluate the success of each location and determine whether to keep them or look for new locations that might fit better. The goal for the next 3-4 years is to have 600-800 permanent stores.
They analyzed the problems that Toys R’ Us faced and KB Toys to see what failed and realized it was investors (Bain Capital). Big malls are going to provide the funding for these new pop-up stores. Kassoff said that in the past malls typically disliked KB Toys due to having product out in front and sometimes outside of their available space, but the malls have realized that they need the foot traffic from toys stores.
KB Toys will also be doing a lot of work with collectors, as well as roadshows with some of the toy vendors. They are looking at innovative ways of getting people into toy stores again. Each store will have a “Toy Nerd”, basically someone that is an expert at collecting toys. Someone that likes mint packaging, and knows what collectors want. Kassoff also said that KB Toys will host “meet and greets” to have autograph sessions with toy designers.
There will also be larger “Experience” stores that will have cafes for people to hang out, party rooms (which you can book), and registries for birthdays. This larger store will also be able to cater to smaller toy manufacturers, in that their product will have shelf space, unlike the smaller pop-up stores.
As always, leave your thoughts in the comment section about these upcoming KB Toys pop-up stores.
Party City To Open Seasonal Toy City Pop-Up Stores
CNBC is reporting that Party City is planning to launch a new “toy” extension of their business. Starting in September, the company will open up roughly 50 ‘Toy City’ pop-up stores. The current plan is for these to run from September through the holiday 2018 season. In conjunction with this, the plan is for Party City to begin offering a greater selection of toys online. Details for that portion of the business or still to come.
“The creation of a Toy City concept to complement our temporary seasonal retail strategy is a logical extension of our brand; one that will allow us to leverage our existing pop-up store capabilities and capitalize on the category whitespace that has recently been created,” Party City CEO James Harrison said in a statement.
No word on the type of toys that the new Toy City will sell, has been revealed. We can only hope that it will sell traditional items from Mattel, Hasbro, and the like. We will update this with more information as it breaks.
Toys R Us to Begin Liquidation Process Thursday
According to a new article at USA Today, Toys R Us will begin its liquidation process on Thursday, March 22, 2018. The site states that the current plan is for all stores to be closed by the end of June 2018. While we do know that the liquidation process starts tomorrow, we don’t know how steep the discounts will be or what product will be initially liquidated.
The timetable was disclosed Tuesday at a hearing in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Richmond, Va. The toy superstore chain, which last week announced plans to dissolve its U.S. operations, came seeking court approval for its liquidation sale plan.
Some store may close earlier, he said, if inventory sells out faster.
The company’s distribution centers, which supply the stores, will close before the stores do, said Bill Kosturos, vice chairman of U.S. restructuring for Alvarez & Marsal, one of the companies advising Toys R Us in the liquidation. Otherwise, the operation is expected to take 14 weeks.
It looks like Toys R Us will only be around for a little longer. Get out and enjoy the sales, and make some memories at the greatest place on Earth to be a kid!
As Toys R Us Fails, KB Toys Swoops in to Take its Place!
Last week saw the announcement of the end of Toys R Us, and social media has been flooded with tributes to the toy store that provided many memories for fans. Not only are fans losing a great store, but 33,000 people including their families, are losing jobs and income. Fast forward a few days, and someone is coming to the rescue.
Ellia Kassoff founder of Strategic Marks, LLC, has announced on Linkedin, that his company will be bringing back KB Toys! Check out the Linkedin post below…
Many of you asked what our plans will be and all we can say is we spent the last six months working on a sustainable model to bring back KB Toys the right way so it can compete with not only the big box stores but on-line as well.
Our umbrella, Strategic Marks, LLC has been very successful bringing back many of the most popular products and companies over the last ten years because we follow a very strict formula; [To bring back the experiences we loved as a child, just as you remembered them]. With #kbtoys, we had to also look at why they initially failed and to make sure those mistakes won’t be made again. Now, with the closing of @toysrus so quickly, it caught us by surprise so we’ve spent the last few days with our team and leaders in the toy industry to figure out how we can accelerate the project so our stores can open for the Christmas season. When we’re ready, you will be very happy with the results and we believe our model can withstand both on-line as well as other large competitors for not only the short-term but long-term as well.
We understand, we’re not just restarting the only other well-known and loved toy chain in the US but hope to find places for those 33,000 jobs which will be lost as Toys R Us closes. Please be patient with us over the next few weeks as we get this rolling. In the meantime, if you are a toy manufacturer, supplier, distributor, industry head or ex-KB Toys executive, we want to talk to you. Please email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at: 949-424-1664. If you are a current #toysrus employee, please feel free to send us your resume to email@example.com but also know that we won’t get back to you for a little while as we finalize our concept.
We don’t yet know what this means, or how this new KB Toys will be rolled out, but from the post above, it does seem like some of the 33,000 displaced Toys R Us workers will soon have a job, especially for a Christmas 2018 rollout.
This all means good things for the toy industry. In the short term companies might feel the belt tighten a tad, but at least it can be let out again at some point.
What are your thoughts of this news?
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