Toys “R” Us in the Houston Galleria | Source: Tru Kids Brands

Originally posted Jan. 25, updated Jan. 29: The store in New Jersey has officially closed as well.

Another year, another sad tale of Geoffrey the Giraffe here in the U.S.

Just 13 months after opening its doors, Tru Kids Brands’ new Toys “R” Us store at the Houston Galleria has gone out of business. The store quietly closed nearly two weeks ago and has been removed from the mall’s website.

In 2019, Tru Kids teamed up with software-powered experiential retailer b8ta on plans to bring Toys “R” Us stores back to the U.S. with a pair of stores located at the Galleria — a Simon Mall — and in Westfield Garden State Plaza in Paramus, New Jersey. The small-scale stores launched around an idea of experiences and open play spaces, where kids could experience new toys out of the box. At their core, the new stores were intended to leverage b8ta’s Retail as a Service (RaaS) platform, which “enables brands to actively manage their in-store experiences and measure how offline experiences translate into online sales.” Those brands then would invest in their own spaces within the stores. By October, a deal was announced in which Target would handle e-commerce for the new Toys “R” Us locations.

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Just in time for Black Friday, Tru Kids Brands’ first new Toys “R” Us store opened for business in New Jersey, with the Texas location following a week later.

The opening of the new stores came just ahead of the looming COVID-19 pandemic which prompted both locations and the malls that house them to close their doors for an extended period of time. By summer 2020, Target was out of the equation as Toys “R” Us pivoted its website to run as little more than a hub for Amazon Associates clickthroughs.

Following the holiday season, both Toys “R” Us locations were promoting “50% Off Everything” sales — excluding LEGO and Nintendo. The Galleria location soon went 75% off and just kept going until the store closed earlier this month. Both the Houston Galleria and Garden State Plaza stores — which had been very active on social media — posted their final entries on Facebook and Instagram on Jan. 4. Customer comments on the Houston store’s Facebook page expressed frustration at the sudden and unannounced closure.

As one parent posted on Instagram, “And just like that … gone AGAIN!”

 

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Meanwhile, a similar fate may be awaiting the store in Paramus.

Attempts by the Toy Book to contact the store were unsuccessful and Google Reviews from as recently as yesterday indicate a similar wind-down process in progress.

Source: Google Reviews

Additionally, a Jan. 17 episode of the “Toy-Lines” podcast recounts a recent visit to the Paramus store and a conversation with store staff that indicated impending closure. The Toys “R” Us story starts around 9:30 into the episode embedded below.

As of Jan. 29, Tru Kids Brands has formally acknowledged the closure of both stores.