Toys R Us is taking another shot at opening up a store in the United States after its comeback plans were thwarted earlier this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The toy retailer’s parent company, WHP Global, said Wednesday that it will open a two-level, 20,000-square-foot Toys R Us location at the American Dream megamall in New Jersey in the middle of this month, which will operate on extended hours for the remainder of the holiday season.
In addition to a variety of toy brands and gaming merchandise, WHP said the location will offer experiences for kids, including a two-story slide. It will also have a cafe and ice cream shop. The store will be located nearby the Nickelodeon Universe theme park and DreamWorks water park at the American Dream, adding it to a slate of experiential offerings at the property, which are in a separate wing from the retail stores.
The announcement comes after WHP relaunched Toys R Us’ website though a partnership with Macy’s in August. It’s also on track to open over 400 Toys R Us shop-in-shops in Macy’s department stores beginning next year.
In January, the last two remaining Toys R Us stores in the U.S. closed as shopper visits to malls dropped off during the health crisis. WHP came into the picture in March, when it acquired the toy brand and vowed it would be reopening elsewhere in the future.
The store opening at the American Dream mall is timed at the tail-end of the holiday shopping season, so Toys R Us already has missed the early rush of shoppers buying presents. But the location could become a destination for procrastinators finishing off their gift buying in the final days leading up to Christmas. It could also appeal to parents looking for an activity to do with their children over winter breaks from school.
“Families will come to visit because American Dream is a destination for the day,” said Yehuda Shmidman, founder of WHP. “We believe that this will be a critical tourist stop for every family visiting the New York area.”
American Dream is still proving whether it can be a trusted retail destination. The megamall is competing with other New Jersey shopping malls such as Westfield Garden State Plaza and Paramus Park mall. The pandemic also postponed some remaining construction work and store openings at the property.
It did see a jolt of visits after Thanksgiving. Shopper traffic at American Dream rose 245% on Black Friday versus an average baseline for traffic since Nov. 1, 2020, according to a tracking by Placer.ai. And visits were up another 218% on Saturday, Placer.ai said. (Placer.ai said it uses a baseline rather than year-over-year comparisons since the property hasn’t been fully open for that long.)
“The world knows that every missile has been thrown at their heads, Covid not the least of which,” said Shmidman about American Dream’s developers Triple Five Group. “But it’s doesn’t matter. These guys are persevering. … We are wildly impressed with the vision and the fortitude.”
Outside of the U.S., WHP operates roughly 900 Toys R Us stores globally. Its other portfolio companies include denim retailer Joe’s Jeans, women’s apparel brand Anne Klein and men’s tailored clothing maker Joseph Abboud.