The modern brick-and-mortar toy store is all about experiences

To net sales outside the holiday season, toy stores are offering experiential, digital, and immersive retail.


July 20, 2021

According to the store’s jingle, Toys R Us kids may not have wanted to grow up — but the business model of toy stores has.

Digital and immersive experiences are now the new norm.

Michael Brown, partner and retail lead at consulting firm Kearney, recently told Retail Dive that there are 3 types of stores that sell toys:

  • Points of commerce (Walmart, Target)
  • Brand builders (Lego, Funko)
  • Experience centers (Camp)

Big-box department stores…

… satisfy many needs, so there’s always a draw. But big-box toy stores — like Toys R Us, which filed for Chapter 11 in 2017 — only tend to do well around the holidays.

To be relevant year-round, toy stores need to think experientially. A few examples:

  • Photo-friendly Funko stores in Los Angeles and Everett, Washington, let shoppers build custom Pops! Figures, resulting in lines around the block.
  • Newer Lego stores have seasonal displays, augmented reality experiences, and customizable figures. Lego will expand this store model to 100 locations by 2022.
  • Dick’s Sporting Goods’ House of Sport concept has rock climbing walls and batting cages.
  • British bookseller Mr. B’s tried a “reading spa” with tea and cake.
  • At London’s House of Vans, you can BMX or skate.

Now pour one out for Toys R Us to this extremely somber cover of its jingle.

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