WELL it is no secret that Toys R Us, the premier purveyor of everything toys and fun is gone and it does make you wonder what happened. The iconic brand had purchased the fabled FAO toy stores irght before it went under, decided to close and possibly move the FAO New York store and then poof - everything’s gone. Maybe you are thinking that this is typical big box retail idiocy. I mean we see Sears last month announcing bankruptcy. Sears! Here is a staple of American merchandising that goes back to the 1800’s and now it will be gone. Maybe in this case you are thinking that Sears was a little late to get on the online train and hiring a new CEO that had no retail experience was another nail in their coffin.
SMALL independent retailers like you and I, while we have our ups and downs, operate on a much different playing field than the big boxes. Imagine any of our stores writing off billions of dollars in debt because of poor business execution. It just doesn’t happen. Independent business owners have to be accountable all year long, year after year. When we are not we close down. It really is that simple. No venture capitalists come knocking on our doors eager to pay discounts on the dollar for our good name and inventory. In fact, did you ever try to sell a flailing store? Good luck with that.
LET’S rewind to the Toys R Us Story because for many independent retailers there could be an opportunity here for a little success. And while the success may not be long term as bigger players gobble up the opportunity, there is still a window of possibility.
WITH the liquidation of Toys R Us there is a large share of toy business up for grabs at the moment. Of course the major players like Walmart and Target are jumping into the arena quickly to pick up the pieces and market share, there is still a good piece of the pie left for independents who move quickly and smartly.
THE trick is to move quickly and do massive promotions of your new or expanded toy departments. You are starting to see Target making changes in their toy sales strategies which have been leading the way with expansion of over a quarter million square feet of store space dedicated to toy and game sales. This will effect over 500 existing stores and the company says the move will be permanent and would double over the year year.
TARGET plans to ramp things up even more by creating events around the country in their toy departments by introducing fictional characters to make shopping in-store more of an experience. OK, small retailers, here’s the cue to tell Uncle Lou to dry clean the Wild Things costume and head over to the store this weekend! And, trust me you are going to need to do some events and marketing because once Walmart saw Target is gearing up, they are going to do the same.
WALMART is plannng on growing its assortment of toys in stores by 30 percent this month and also will be launching new in-store experiences to highlight new products they will be carrying. And let’s not forget about Amazon, Kohls and JCP, all of whom have shown their interest in catching a ride on the toy wagon.
EVERYTHING was looking great in the first couple of paragraphs of this article, wasn’t it? Until we touched upon Walmart, Target and the dreaded Amazon. As seasoned retailers we’re used to that though. ANY product line you are going to sell in your store or website is going to have that competition. The only way to play to win is to minimize the number of sku’s that you buy and stick only with the hottest items that will move quickly and have recognition in the market. In this day and age you’re not going to compete head-to-head so make money on selected items while you can. Scale it down, control your inventory and you can win in the toy game this year.
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