Some of my best childhood memories were at Toys”R”Us. I grew up 10 minutes away from the Toys”R”Us in King of Prussia, PA, and it was the stuff dreams were made of. It’s where my dad and mom got me my first Nintendo Gameboy, my first K’NEX, my first set of LEGOs, and my first wooden trains. These were some of the toys that made me fall in love with building things and eventually led me to computers, programming, and now, stores.
In 2015, we started b8ta to create a place to try new technology products out of the box. Since then, millions of visitors have been through, and many people tell us that b8ta stores are their favorite stores. They love b8ta the way I loved Toys “R” Us as a kid.
We always imagined that the accessible model and software we invented to create our stores, called Retail as a Service, could be applied to categories outside of electronics. Throughout the years, we’ve tested a wide range of products and brands in our stores. Last year, we took the next step and partnered with Macy’s to create The Market, where we’ve been able to help hundreds of brands from all types of categories to launch at Macy’s. The experience gave us confidence that our Retail as a Service platform was something that could transform all of retail one day.
Last year, we were introduced to the folks in charge of helping the Toys”R”Us team navigate its next steps. We invited them out to California to visit a few b8ta locations, and talked about the intense disappointment and sadness felt across the country when Toys"R"Us had to shutter its doors. I shared that same feeling. I have a one-year old daughter who would never get the opportunity to be a Toys"R"Us kid like me.
During our conversations, it became clear that b8ta and Tru Kids (the company that owns the marks and manages it globally) shared a vision for what the new Toys"R"Us stores could be: smaller format, completely experiential, products out of the box, with a business model designed for the future. We proposed creating a new entity to jointly own and operate these new stores, with a long-term oriented strategy to bring the brand back in the right way, and they agreed.
Today, we are incredibly excited to finally announce our partnership and share more info about the new Toys”R”Us stores, which we’ve been working on in stealth for some time. I also wanted to thank my co-founder Phillip Raub for his efforts, who will serve as the interim co-CEO of the joint venture in addition to leading all of b8ta’s owned & operated retail efforts. If you haven’t already, read his post for more details on the stores.
When we swing open the doors in November, we truly believe you will love the experience, and that it will be a dream factory for your kids, reimagined for the modern world. Personally, I can’t wait to take my daughter there and create new memories and relive some old ones as well. I hope to see you and your kids there, too.