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UPDATED BELOW with Statement from the Company...

As I've said before, the saga of the Toys "R" Us collapse just continues to get stranger as time goes on, with new layers of unusual and in some cases, unheard-of activity still being revealed. Following the announcement that Bain Captial and Kohlberg Kravis Roberts (KKR) were setting up a $20M fund to provide some severance to a portion of the 33,000 workers that were left jobless following the closure of the toy retailer in the U.S., now comes word that plans are in motion for a revived Toys "R" Us that could be run by some of the very companies that drove the company into liquidation in the first place. One theory that's been floated in back channels and among former TRU employees and business partners in recent months has been that the long-awaited IP auction has been intentionally delayed, having been postponed from June to August and then again to October. Now that auction has been flat-out cancelled, and the reason may come as a surprise (or not) to many: some of the same lenders that forced the company into liquidation have been plotting to revive both Toys "R" Us and Babies "R" Us under a new retail entity.

The birth rates might be down, but contrary to what some might have you think - yes, people are still having babies... even Millennials. With the loss of Babies "R" Us during the Toys "R" Us collapse this past year, new parents looking for a spot to check out the latest in baby gear are finding that there may soon be more places to buy than ever before, and the latest is a bit of an unexpected one: JCPenney. The iconic retailer has had their own share of struggles with evolution over the past few years, but they're still working on it, this week announcing the opening of JCPenney Baby Shops in 500 stores.

As we enter August, I've now been writing about the collapse of Toys "R" Us (TRU) for 11 months - hard to imagine that last year at this time, the dominoes were just on the verge of tipping, as positive announcements like the launch of Spin Master's Rusty Rivets toys and the pending Force Friday II ahead of Star Wars: The Last Jedi were still taking place. Of course, by September things were looking bleak, and my "Toy Killer" feature about Bain Capital setting-up TRU to fail and fall - just as they did with KB Toys - was published just 12 days ahead of their filing for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Protection. The eventual motion for complete liquidation just six months later would be a surprise to many, but the fact that the process of shutting down the company and selling off its assets keeps getting drawn-out is one that continues to surprise and pour salt in the wounds of many. I still hold firm in my belief that certain parties at the top never had any real intention of allowing Toys "R" Us and Babies "R" Us to continue here in the United States, and now it appears as though by the time it's all said and done, even the names my hold little value. Once again, the Intellectual Property Auction that would allow buyers to purchase the IP assets of the company has been postponed - this time until October. For those playing along at home, the initial plans for the auction were outlined back in May with the original plan set for a June 18 action... postponed until August 6, and now delayed once again. With each passing day, the TRU brand loses more and more of its value, but life without Toys "R" Us isn't necessarily as bleak as some may have thought. In fact, the NPD Group reports that toy industry sales are up more than 7% so far in 2018 with double-digit increases in the sales of youth electronics and dolls. Still, the saga of Toys "R" Us continues, and as I said during my panel appearance at San Diego Comic-Con, it's like an L.O.L. Surprise Doll in that there's just more and more to discover as each layer is peeled back...

If you thought it was sad when Toys "R" Us filed a motion to liquidate its remaining U.S. stores, that was just the beginning. The memes circulated quickly with images of a tearful Geoffrey the Giraffe, often accompanied by a viral video of the iconic Toys "R" Us jingle performed "in a minor key" (I'd share it here, but frankly, I just didn't think it was very good). Nearly a week has passed since that motion was filed, with the fate of over 33,000 jobs hanging in the balance. Retail workers on the front lines had to deal with an onslaught of rude customers this past weekend, many fussing over a "lack of sales" at the 735 stores that hadn't already been slated to close. The customer abuse from deal hunters was reported from coast to coast, with some stores placing makeshift signs at their doors and on their store-run Instagram accounts to remind the public that those responsible are not at store level, and to please tread lightly in dealing with workers who will soon be out of a job. On Sunday came word to cancel all upcoming store events... and on Monday the call went out to hire temporary workers to fill 60-90 day positions to assist in purging warehouses and closing stores. The moves were happening without approval from the Bankruptcy Court... but now that approval has been granted. After an 8+ hour hearing on March 20, Judge Keith L. Phillips ruled that Toys "R" Us could proceed with the liquidation plan that they'd filed on March 15. What will take place in the days and weeks ahead is already being called "the largest retail liquidation in U.S. history." 

Think your house is Childproof just because you spent a ton of money on Childproofing/Babyproofing products that you installed correctly? Well, here at Rock Father HQ, our daughter has some different thoughts. 

Published in James' Journal

I was just discussing Toys "R" Us with my wife last night. As many of you regular readers know, I mention TRU pretty frequently here on The Rock Father (like when we started our Christmas shopping in October). Not only is it our favorite store (we visit the local Toys "R" Us/Babies "R" Us combo on a weekly basis - particularly since we have a newborn in the house), but I receive their press releases and corporate news via email here at Rock Father HQ, with updates arriving several times a week. If something interesting is happening at TRU, I usually share the news...

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