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Toys R Us makes its return: here's what you need to know about the store

Brian Sozzi
Editor-at-Large

Welcome back Toys R Us, we missed you.

Toys R Us will open its first new U.S. retail store at the Westfield Garden State Plaza mall in Paramus, New Jersey Wednesday. Yes, this isn’t fake news — Toys R Us is back from the dead.

The company went through a highly publicized bankruptcy liquidation in 2017 after years of struggles and tough competition from Amazon and Walmart. But the chain’s long-time chief merchant Richard Barry bought the rights to the brand name and houses it under a corporate name called Tru Kids. He has since struck a deal with Target to help service orders from a rebooted website.

And another Toys R Us store will open Dec. 7 at the The Galleria mall in Houston, Texas.

“It’s a dream come true for me personally, I have been around the company for decades,” Barry told Yahoo Finance. Barry says he plans to open 10 more stores by the end of 2020 and is actively on the hunt for prime real estate.

FILE - In this Jan. 24, 2018, file photo, a person walks near the entrance to a Toys R Us store, in Wayne, N.J. A group of investors is planning a potential comeback for Geoffrey the giraffe and his crew. Investors that control the assets of the company say they now see a better chance of a return on investment by potentially reviving the toy chain, rather than selling it off for parts. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez, File)

While the name out front still says Toys R Us — and we can confirm beloved mascot Geoffrey the Giraffe will be at the Paramus store opening — the stores will look very different than the chain that went belly up. Gone will be the endless rows of toys sitting emotionless on metal shelves. In is a focus on Barry on creating experiences for shoppers that can’t be replicated online, not only to entice them to buy toys but to make the shopping environment feel alive.

For instance, you can play with a 3D virtual Geoffrey in what the store is calling a “magical mirror.” Sounds cool, this thing surely didn’t exist when this millennial was hunting for video games at Toys R Us back in 1991. Barry has also divided the store into shops supported by the best merchandise from some of the biggest names in toys. Hasbro, Nintendo, Little Tikes maker MGA Entertainment and Lego will all have shops where consumers could interact with the toys.

Lego is stepping up by planting a life-sized lego model in its shop so shoppers can snap photos.

So, here is your feel good story ahead of Christmas. The return of Toys R Us. It’s unlikely the company will go public again anytime soon, obviously. But as someone who covered the chain’s ugly downfall — and shopped its stores every weekend as a kid (and a grown-up less frequently) — it’s nice to see what Barry has put together.

Brian Sozzi is an editor-at-large and co-anchor of The First Trade at Yahoo Finance. Follow him on Twitter @BrianSozzi

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