Toys R Us gets new lease on life with opening of US store

Kids who didn't want to grow up get their wish

Scores of parents are lining up at a New Jersey mall Wednesday as the iconic toy store chain Toys R Us makes its comeback after shuttering its U.S. stores last year due to declining sales.

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The retailer, which filed for bankruptcy in 2017, opened a nearly 6,000-square-foot store, described as a "highly immersive smaller-format space" at the Westfield Garden State Plaza in Paramus, New Jersey.

The soft opening comes a day before Thanksgiving and the grand opening celebration is slated for Saturday.

The grand opening will take place around 10 a.m. ET Saturday at the mall and will feature character appearances and giveaways, officials said. The retailer took to social media ahead of the opening, telling fans to mark their calendars.

Earlier this year, it was announced that the brand would re-emerge before the holiday season under a new parent company called Tru Kids Brands.

Richard Barry, CEO of Tru Kids Brands, is aiming to revive the brand, which fell victim to the surge of more shoppers turning to Amazon and other online outlets to shop.

"Toys 'R' Us is built into the fabric of childhood," Barry said. "With the return of Toys 'R' Us stores in the U.S., we are bringing a highly engaging, experience-driven retail destination that celebrates play and deepens the connection between the world's best toy, play, and entertainment brands and customers."

Richard Barry, CEO of Tru Kids Brands

The stores, as part of a joint venture with b8ta, will be curated to give shoppers a new experience in a smaller-format space where immersive modern shopping "products are off the shelves and in the hands and imaginations of customers."

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"The stores will be highly interactive with new events and activities every day, from seeing toys displayed out of the box to test before making a purchase, to visiting different brand stations to driving learning through play embracing STEAM, or just having fun with Geoffrey the Giraffe in the open playspace," the company said in a press release.

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The retailer's second location will open in December at The Galleria in Houston, Texas.

The company plans to open 10 locations by the end of 2020, officials said.

"As the retail landscape changes, so do consumer shopping habits. But what hasn't changed is that kids want to touch everything and simply play. In partnership with Richard and his team, we are excited to bring back Toys 'R' Us in an immersive way, focused on creating a fun and engaging experience for kids—and adults, too," said Phillip Raub, co-founder and president of b8ta and interim co-CEO of the Toys R Us joint venture.

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Toys R Us, which once dominated toy sales in the U.S., declared bankruptcy in 2017 after years of declining sales. It filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection under the weight of $5 billion in debt.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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