It hasn't been officially announced by any of the involved parties just yet, but those awaiting news on where Geoffrey's Toy Box merchandise would show up now have an answer. Pallet shippers of Toys "R" Us house brand merchandise are now arriving at Kroger stores as part of the new Geoffrey's Toy Box collection from Geoffrey, LLC. The Ohio-based Kroger operates stores under several names in around 35 states, and there's no word yet on if all of their affiliated brands will be included in the Geoffrey's Toy Box program or not.
For years, tales of haunted toy stores have spread as urban legends, like the fabled Toys "R" Us in Sunnyvale, California - one said to be so frightening, it's inspired decades of theories and once appeared on an episode of Haunted Lives: True Ghost Stories, directed by Tobe Hooper (Poltergeist) and narrated by Star Trek's Leonard Nimoy. While the iconic retailer closed its doors here in the U.S. back in June, there is a chance for you to take a stroll through a Toys "R" Us once more, but not one of the many currently inhabited by pop-up stores like Spirit Halloween or Party City's Halloween City / Toy City combos... a haunted Toys "R" Us. For one month only, those who are brave enough have the opportunity to visit ZOMBIES 'R' US - "A New Haunted Experience" located inside the former Toys "R" Us location in College Point (aka Flushing, NY) Queens.
The holiday shopping season is officially upon us, and as promised, the #ToyWars are in full-effect with retailers stepping up to serve families who may be saddened by the loss of Toys "R" Us this year. While the big guns have been getting much of the press, there's quite a few smaller, regional retailers who are upping their game, and one is an old favorite of mine - Blain's Farm & Fleet. Family-owned and with just 39 locations across Wisconsin, Illinois, Iowa and Michigan, they might not be a familiar name, but they're a store that I've always enjoyed stopping at, particularly as a kid. In fact, while the closest store to us is over 20 miles away, my mom still does occasionally check out the location near her for their annual Toyland tradition, and as of today it's open for 2018 - promised to be bigger and better than ever. For over 60 years, customers have lined-up in the darkness prior to the 7am store opening, but this year there's even more fun to be had.
In the midst of the always-unfolding saga of Toys "R" Us here in the U.S., this little bit of awesome flew under my radar until this morning. In a beautiful, 12-minute video that was published just as news was coming in that Geoffrey, LLC was cancelling the IP auction for Toys "R" Us and plotting some sort of return, Sculpture_Geek (Chris Vierra) pays tribute to Charles Lazarus' iconic mascot, Geoffrey Giraffe by sculpting him in Chavant, oil-based clay. After 70 years, was the story really over, or was it just beginning? Check out Chris' impressive work in the video below!
I feel bad for the small crew that's stayed on at Toys "R" Us (though not as bad as I do for the folks who weren't as fortunate) through the course of their spectacular collapse and extraordinarily unusual bankruptcy proceedings this past year. While the last of their stores closed on June 29th in the U.S., on June 20th the company registered a new trademark for Geoffrey's Toy Box - news that I broke right here on The Rock Father™ Magazine last week. All this time, there has been a crew working on what would emerge as Geoffrey, LLC, and before I go any further, I think it should be made clear that no one should be made to feel at fault for holding onto a job during times of crisis. Though the former Global Resource Center for Toys "R" Us in Wayne, NJ has been stripped-down and largely liquidated itself, there's been a small crew at work, and those folks were placed into a really hard spot - supporting their families while friends and colleagues were let go, and also tasked with trying to reimagine and perhaps revive a brand that they loved. That said, the news of Geoffrey, LLC living on as Geoffrey's Toy Box (branded merch, licensing, perhaps new stores... eventually) has been met with polarizing reaction from those within the toy industry, but tonight it became apparent that whoever decided to pull the trigger on re-activating the Toys "R" Us social networks wasn't counting on public backlash.
It's been a massive week for the toy industry as the annual Fall Toy Preview has come to a close in Dallas. While the big news has been with Toys "R" Us lenders restructuring assets under Geoffrey, LLC and prepping to launch their Geoffrey's Toy Box initiative, a new opponent has entered the battlefield as retailers position themselves to grab market share left up for grabs following the closure of Toys "R" Us in the U.S. as we head into the holiday season. Go! Retail Group has announced a nationwide expansion of their toy business, and as part of that they're opening a new concept: TOYS EXPRESS. The new stores will open in 13 locations previously occupied by Toys "R" Us Express stores.