Monday, March 19, 2018

KB Toys, rise from your grave

Here's another know it all putting their two cents in

In a feel good moment in a time where most are a little bummed  that Toys R Us is going out of business, news hit yesterday that plans to resurrect the Kay Bee brand name are underway. As usual on the internet this news was met with great applause and the usual amount of predictable naysaying (good thing this ain't a drinking game or I'd have died of alcohol poisoning over a decade ago). While it does feel good to see an old well loved name return, and the news brings such good karma points as taking resumes from Toys R Us employees, one does have to look at the facts when considering the possibilities of this venture being successful.

Point blank, Toys R Us is closing business because of high prices. No matter how much know it alls like to point out internet-based shopping, the bottom line of the size of the crowds at your local Walmart on a Saturday or Christmas season obviously points to retail still being well and good. In fact as internet based shopping is becoming more and more a force in how we buy things, most successful retail stores have integrated internet shopping into their business model with the success depending on how the chains utilize their strategies.

Going back to Walmart, while success and ultimate satisfaction will depend on each stores staff, they've been doing some good work utilizing internet based shopping with their retail experience. I'm a big fan of their grocery ordering system. Either on their site or app, my wife and I complile a shopping list of what we plan to buy each week. When we're done, we reserve a time for pickup when we finalize our purchase. Any item we select that is ok for a substitution is usually substituted for a greater priced or larger portion version of what we've picked and any item we won't take a substitute for is not charged to us. We are notified of these details from an email that we get around an hour before our pick up time. With the apps use of location services, the employees know when we pull up usually and meet us shortly after depending on the amount of people waiting in the designated area. Each purchase includes a online survey form for that purchase that we do every week and literally see the difference by the next week. They have a similar service for online store pick up with a lounge area equipped with lockers that your purchase is waiting for you in (they're locked and only you have access to unlock yours).

Assuming this new Kay Bee will do as they say and work better than prior toy stores such as Toys R Us or even the original incarnation of Kay Bee, one can assume web site/physical location integration will be utilized. Another hope will be for better pricing. Kay Bee formerly specialized in close out toys at low prices with newer toys costing more than a Walmart (sound familiar). As the retail landscape has changed since Kay Bee shut down, I can only imagine what the new version would be. Indoor shopping malls are still a thing, but in my area, have really reduced since the 90's. Big box style open air shopping centers cover the landscape here with many smaller stores in the smaller shops in between Target and Petsmart.

I can easily see a toy store the size of an Old Navy or a Five Below in one of these shopping centers doing well. I can imagine a similar sized store with a healthy mix of normal retail toys and  higher priced boutique collector items with those neato low cost items like novetly slimes in the mix doing well even outside the Christmas season. Working in a well executed web site integration and you might just well have a hit.

Sure people order like crazy from Amazon, but even Amazon is working on physical locations. If you look at all the reports of delivery items being stolen off porches last Christmas (I even got a po box in retaliation), you can see an example of why a person would be interested in a good store pick up experience. Or no matter how much a rando will tell you that Amazon is how they buy anything, not much longer you'll hear about how they spent all Saturday shopping in a shopping center.


  1. I always liked Kay Bee and was sad when they closed. I was never impressed with TRU, mostly because of the prices. So, I hope this can happen. :)


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