Will you help to #SaveToysRUs? No matter what your take on it, most will agree that the saga of Toys "R" Us is nothing short of historic. With each new day, new information comes forth, and much of it is absolutely unprecedented. Today brings a new chapter as Isaac Larian, CEO of MGA Entertainment, Inc. (MGAE), one of the world's leading privately held toy and entertainment companies and the folks behind favorites like L.O.L. Surprise!, Little Tikes, Project Mc2, Num Noms and more has announced a GoFundMe campaign aimed at saving the iconic toy retailer Toys"R"Us. A crowdfunding effort to save a retailer is a unique proposition for sure, and Larian and various investor associates have already given the campaign a jump-start with personal contributions over $200 million toward a lofty $1 billion goal, which would be used in the formulation of a bid to acquire all or some Toys"R"Us assets through the bankruptcy process. This is a separate endeavor from the previously-reported bid that Larian and his group placed toward the operations of Toys "R" Us Canada. If you're interested in getting involved, I'm sharing the full details on the campaign here on The Rock Father™ Magazine, as provided this morning via press release from Larian.
It's 12:57am Thursday morning here at Rock Father HQ in Illinois, and with a fresh coffee poured, I'm still finding myself enthralled with what's happening with Toys "R" Us. Like Michael Corleone, "just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in." There is so much information flowing right now, I believe that we haven't even begun to fully understand the shadiness that's gone down at Toys "R" Us - not just in the U.S., but with some of the overseas units as well. With liquidation sales originally thought to be starting when stores open later this morning, multiple sources are now telling me that they might be postponed due to erroneous court documents. I have not been able to confirm that, so we'll find out as the day develops. What I really wanted to share with you now is a video from Dan Rather that The Young Turks posted earlier this week. I don't believe that enough people have seen it, and Rather backs up much of what I've been telling all of you in recent months... but he also ties it back to our President in some overlooked ways. If you've wondered why, despite all the tweeting and chest pumping about jobs that he does, Donald Trump has thus far been quiet on the potential loss of 33,000 jobs thanks to the Toys "R" Us collapse, Mr. Rather may just have the answer. Watch and listen...
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."
My inbox has been exploding since Sunday, and yes - things are getting weird. Last weekend, THE ROCK FATHER™ Magazine was the first to report on the plans of Strategic Marks, LLC's plan to revive the KB Toys brand in the wake of the Toys "R" Us collapse. The news spread quickly, leading to excitement, speculation, and mostly the question of "how?" Over the past few days, I've exchanged messages with Ellia Kassoff, head of Strategic Marks, who promised more news soon on the launch and how they plan to "revive and rebuild" the once iconic retailer. Now we have a little more insight, and it came from an unexpected source - the New York Post. Turns out, some familiar players in the pop-up game just might be getting in on the action.
3/20/2018 For an update on this story - click here!
With the recent news that Toys "R" Us has filed for liquidation in the U.S., there's been much discussion on what the future will hold for toymakers, the ever-changing retail landscape, and most importantly - the 33,000+ jobs currently at stake. While some are trying to craft a save that could keep the Toys "R" Us brand afloat in some manner (such as an investment group led by MGA Entertainment's Issac Larian - just one player in the mix), others are looking to the future by taking pages out of the past. Now things have gotten a little weirder as Ellia Kassoff of Strategic Brands, LLC has entered the fold with a bold claim: "We're going to save the toy industry!" His plan? To resurrect KB Toys.
A week ago, despite all the rumors of doom and gloom surrounding the fate of Toys "R" Us, my wife and I took our girls to our local store on a Friday night. Our visit was multi-fold - the main interest being that we needed a very specific birthday gift for our nephew (my wife = "the cool aunt"), and our girls wanted to pick out a little something with their own money. They receive a modest amount that caps at $5 per week based on performance at school as tracked by the Class Dojo app, and at five and eight they've reached the point of really enjoying the opportunity to pick something out and pay for it themselves. For our youngest, it was one of MGA Entertainment's L.O.L. Surprise Lil' Sisters, and for our oldest a small case of eye shadow from the Claire's Boutique store-within-a-store. What I was impressed with was that the attitude at the store was not gloomy at all - the employees were friendly, the store bright and clean, and it was still well-stocked with new items. Along the way, we received a demo of a Mattel classic - the Hot Wheels Criss Cross Crash (the girls love their Hot Wheels, just like daddy), and checked out the full assortment of Hasbro's new toys from Avengers: Infinity War. There were quite a few customers, and if you didn't know the backstory, you'd think all was well at Geoffrey's house. We got what we came for - an Imaginarium Ride-On Train that was priced at $149.99 in-store, but $104.99 on the TRU website. A quick mention at the check-out and it was price-matched and we were out the door. Less than a week later, rumors began swirling again that the folks pulling the strings on Toys "R" Us were considering a full-scale liquidation, and one that could come as soon as today - Monday. I drove by the Toys "R" Us in Gurnee, Illinois again on Saturday, and the parking lot was so packed, it could've been Christmas Eve. As of this writing, no news came through from TRU, but now all signs are pointing to something happening on Thursday, March 15, 2018.