We all knew something had to give. Toys "R" Us
It's as if the company read Fool Rick Munarriz's mind (or at least read his commentary) last November. He suggested that the best way for Toys "R" Us to win against low-cost archrivals Wal-Mart
The megastore concept may be a little bit too "Wal-Mart," of course. The idea is to differentiate from Wal-Mart, and Toys "R" Us was already a pretty darn big toy store. What is the differentiating characteristic is that the stores selected for the experiment will now offer arts and crafts, haircuts, photo studios, party rooms, and other kid-centric perks, Reuters said.
Think jungle gyms and story hours. Also, frazzled parents who don't have the time (or the patience) to plan a child's birthday party at home can have one done for them, paying about $10 per child for a party that contains the works -- invitations, cakes, and games and activities.
The Reuters article said that there are four experimental Geoffrey stores and about 12 stores that incorporate elements of Geoffreys into the Toys "R" Us venue. The stores are, so far, located in North Carolina, Mississippi, Wisconsin, and Texas.
One can only hope that this Toys "R" Us trend will spread. It's got to put the joy back in TOY.
Further, what with the troubles that have befallen the FAO Schwarz, KB Toys, and Zany Brainy stores, leaving those stores either closed or crippled, now's the time to act. If Toys "R" Us can get its act together, there's likely a lot less competition than there was this time last year, with the exception of the mom and pop shops, which are likely in sink-or-swim mode in the current environment.
With lots of competition out of the way, it's time to take back the toy box. If Toys "R" Us can get itself back in play, those investors who have weathered these tough times for toys will feel like kids again.
Read more about the travails of Toys "R" Us:
- Toys "R" Us Looking Better?, by Nathan Slaughter
- Been Back to Toys "R" Us?, by Bill Mann
- Where the Toys Are, by Rick Munarriz
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Alyce Lomax does not own shares of any of the companies mentioned. Even though she's a writer, she was never as good at Scrabble as one might imagine.