The Toy Book caught up with Jamie Uitdenhowen, president of Toy Retail Showrooms, a wholly owned subsidiary of Tru Kids Brands, about the company’s new, revamped locations; its partnership with Target; and what’s new for the year.

Toys “R” Us stores are officially back in the U.S. What different strategies did you implement in these locations?
The experiential nature of the new stores is very different than those of the past in terms of size, layout, and product count, but at the same time still allow parents and kids to engage with top brands and discover products they love.

Exclusive playscapes where kids can unleash their imaginations and create meaningful interactions with Geoffrey the Giraffe, the Toys “R” Us brand’s treasured mascot, and the more than 40 brands carried in store [are at the heart of the new stores]. Upon entering the stores, guests are greeted by a giant, larger-than-life plush Geoffrey the Giraffe. [They] can explore; read; have fun climbing up steps that have the lyrics “I Don’t Wanna Grow Up, I’m a Toys ‘R’ Us Kid” into Geoffrey’s Tree House; or head to Geoffrey’s Magical Mirror play pod, where a 3D, virtual Geoffrey comes to life and mimics your every movement.

The Play-A-Round Theater, an open event space where kids and adults come to play, learn, and discover — together — [is also unique to our stores]. These unique experiences create endless opportunities to explore new interests, learn new skills, collaborate with new friends, or discover a new favorite toy.

Target is powering the new Toys “R” Us shopping experience in the U.S. What are the benefits of this partnership?
Our e-commerce strategy with Target provides a way to reach consumers immediately and from a wide demographic. Target also powers the online sales for our new experiential stores, providing customers access to a deeper assortment of curated products. Combining our voice on trends and play with the power of Target’s inventory, shipping, and customer service is a win for consumers.

What can consumers expect from Tru Kids Brands this year?
Last year, our focus was on reimagining the Toys “R” Us brand in the U.S. and creating the best possible experience for shoppers and our brand partners. We delivered on that through an omnichannel approach with the relaunch of toysrus.com, the new store experience, and our partnership with Candytopia to create limited-run, experiential events.

We plan to open additional stores this year and will proceed with a thoughtful expansion strategy incorporating insights and feedback from our first two locations. Throughout this year, we will continue to develop our strategy around the store experience, with plans to open larger flagship experiences in major U.S. markets over the next three to five years.


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