Updated 10:51pm with more details at the end of the article…
Less than 24 hours before the official start of The Toy Association‘s annual Fall Toy Preview in Dallas, court filings revealed that the long-awaited Intellectual Property Auction for Toys “R” Us had been cancelled. Reported on here (now updated with a statement from the company), the new chapter in the long saga of the TRU closure would see a new company rise from Geoffrey, LLC under control of the lenders. Having been rumored for months, one question raised is how long ago in the bankruptcy process were the lenders planning to relaunch the company themselves rather than sell the assets? Backing-up to the June 29th final closure of the remaining Toys “R” Us and Babies “R” Us locations in the United States, there were some cryptic messages posted on the TRU social accounts using the hashtag “#TRUBeContinued…” inviting followers to “stay tuned for news and information on the next chapter for Geoffrey and the iconic TRU brands.” While the Facebook page has been deactivated and the Instagram account has gone dormant, someone recently did a clean-up on the TRU Twitter account, deleting all the liquidation posts and tacky video ads going back to March 9th – a message thanking customers for their support. So why is the June 29th date so important? Because on June 20th, just nine days prior to the doors being closed, Geoffrey, LLC filed for a trademark on a new name: Geoffrey’s Toy Box. And just who is exhibiting in Booth #13-3229 at the Fall Toy Preview? Geoffrey’s Toy Box.
According to their pitch sheet, Geoffrey’s Toy Box is a “wholesale toy distributor and intellectual property company whose focus is on popular play patterns across trusted brands that kids and parents love. Geoffrey’s Toy Box is a fully outfitted organization with design, development and global sourcing expertise. Portfolio includes popular brands like Journey Girls, Fastlane, True Heroes, You & Me, Imaginarium, Just like Home and more!”
On the surface, that sounds like a way to bring together all the Toys “R” Us private-label brands (that would’ve been auctioned) under one roof with the opportunity to start selling those products to other retailers. But the trademark filing wasn’t just for a host of potential products, but also for retail locations both online and off.
With Fall Toy Preview underway, attendees are seeing a familiar Giraffe roaming the floor this morning – one wearing a cape that says “Back from Vacation.” Keriann Wilmot aka the Toy Queen shared the following photos on Facebook:
The Toys “R” Us Geoffrey’s Toy Box team in Dallas are some of the few folks from the skeleton crew that inhabits the now-ghostly offices of the TRU Global Resource Center in Wayne, New Jersey. Remaining staffers began switching their email signatures to the new name this summer, and even Richard Barry, TRU EVP of Global Merchandising is listed as “EVP – Geoffrey’s Toy Box” on The Toy Association website. Some may also note that variations on the “Geoffrey” name have been used on TRU concept stores for several years, including Geoffrey’s and Geoffrey’s Bargain Box of Toys. As for Geoffrey’s Toy Box, seems that this guy might be owed a few bucks:
If I were @ToysRUs, I’d adopt a ‘subscription’ model and call it the “Geoffrey’s Toy Box.” This would be catered to a kid’s curated profile.
— Ferchil Ramos (@FerchilRamos) September 18, 2017
Updated 10:51pm – my colleagues at The Toy Book got in touch with Richard Barry this evening. He says that Geoffrey’s Toy Box will launch this November as a “shop-within-a-shop” concept, debuting with “a prominent Midwest retailer.” As it stands right now, this would consist of a train of Geoffrey’s Toy Box branded displays, effectively keeping the familiar Giraffe in front of families and on their minds this holiday season. Barry himself is already a controversial figure, having been publicly called out by Basic Fun! CEO Jay Foreman, who specifically cited Barry in an interview with the New York Post earlier this year, alleging “ethical fraud – disgusting and despicable.”
This story is getting pretty interesting again…