After more than a year without the giant toy retailer, U.S. residents will once again have a chance to shop at Toys ‘R’ Us for the holiday season. The retailer, now owned by TRU Kids Brand, announced that it will return to two brick-and-mortar locations in time for the 2019 holiday season.

You can read more about the deal and the new locations here. In terms of retail strategy, why would TRU try to return to the U.S. market when it formerly closed all 735 locations? It seems that the retailer is banking on a new sales approach.

The new TRU has partnered with experiential retailer B8ta to create in-store experiences. In a rather cynical article, Gizmodo writes: “Instead of just being rows and rows of shelves stocked with what kids actually want, the new Toys R Us stores will be more like interactive playgrounds with pre-planned events and activities every day, and the opportunity to play with a handful of toy samples.”

On the one hand, this switch in strategy may spark renewed interest in the retailer. Afterall, the two locations set to open (one in New Jersey and the other in Houston) are both located in shopping malls. Consumers need a good reason to walk into a physical store these days, let alone a mall. Perhaps this new model will draw buyers in for both the experience and the nostalgia. But critics pose that the original model of stocking loads of toys was working for TRU. The reason the company failed had little to do with its sales strategy and everything to do with its massive amount of debt. So why change the one thing that was actually working?

TRU still has 900 stores abroad in Canada, Europe and Asia. If this year’s experiential experiment goes well, the retailer plans to open more U.S. locations next year.

What do you think of TRU? Do you think it’s a giant work resurrecting or something better left as a fond memory? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section!
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Written by Kim Kelly Consulting