In the Toy Book‘s annual State of the Industry Q&A, Cra-Z-Art’s Chairman Lawrence Rosen discussed how the company shifted strategies after the loss of Toys “R” Us and its product plans for the year.

How did Cra-Z-Art successfully cope with the loss of Toys “R” Us?
There is no doubt that Toys “R” Us has been missed since it closed its doors in the early part of 2018. After all, the retailer had garnered approximately a 14% share of the toy marketplace and allowed us to showcase a wide array of our toy catalog. It certainly made the retail environment more challenging to navigate for sellers and consumers. However, Cra-Z-Art has been able to aggressively and successfully make up share and fill the void by working with our great, key retail partners to expand listings and promote items both at the store level and online. We also worked with and supported new, alternate retail channels that have emerged over the last year and a half. Of course, this included the new experiential Toys “R” Us stores that opened in New Jersey and Houston for the holiday season this past fall.

Fortunately, kids have not lost interest in toys, and we have a very good portfolio of items, including our Nickelodeon Slime and other arts-and-crafts items, such as our Friendship Bracelet Studio and the resurgence of our popular Cra-Z Loom item that drove sales and enabled us to increase revenue and have another good year. We’ll continue these efforts and look for additional growth channels this year.

Toys that embrace classic play are continuing to edge out products that incorporate technology. How does this affect your product design plans?
At Cra-Z-Art, we’ve always focused on classic play patterns that foster creative and imaginative play with kids.

In magnetic construction, we have Magrific, Magtastix, and Mag Creator, which, using STEM learning, all literally “build” on one another, adding fun components, such as magnetic balls and rods. For arts and crafts, the category was up 3% in 2018. Our various bracelet-making items, including Cra-Z Loom, Friendship Bracelet Kits, and our new Friendship Bracelet Studio, are all very popular.

Of course, we started the DIY slime kit craze back in 2017 when we introduced our Nickelodeon Slime, and it’s still going strong. The line now includes many premade slime items, such as Nickelodeon Slime Buckets. Besides slime, the marketplace is “compound crazy,” with kids loving the tactile and cognitive play of molding, squeezing, and smelling products, such as our Softee Dough, Cra-Z Sand, and Smart Putty. And everyone likes a good puzzle — it’s something the whole family could do together! Our premium line of Kodak puzzles offers beautiful, rich photography, iconic of the classic brand. Finally, food play has been a trending toy category, and there’s nothing more classic than our popular Snoopy Sno-Cone Machine and Cotton Candy Maker. Look out for new innovations in all of these areas this year as we expect these trends to continue!

This State of the Industry Q&A response originally appeared in the February 2020 issue of the Toy Book. Click here to read more!

About the author

Maddie Michalik

Maddie Michalik

Maddie Michalik was the Editor-in-Chief of The Toy Book from 2020-2022. She was also a Senior Editor at The Toy Insider and The Pop Insider.