As Toys R Us Closes, KB Toys Eyes a Comeback

Tim Boyle/Getty Images
Tim Boyle/Getty Images / Tim Boyle/Getty Images

After filing for bankruptcy in September, Toys R Us announced on March 15 that it would liquidate, closing 735 stores and leaving 31,000 employees out of work. With such a staple of the toy industry gone, manufacturers like Mattel and Hasbro are going to find themselves without a home for a large chunk of their products, leading some analysts to estimate that 10 to 15 percent of all toy sales could be lost for good once the final Toys R Us closes shop.

But as one toy giant falls, another could be looking to take its place, as Business Insider reports.

In a post on LinkedIn, Ellia Kassoff, founder of Strategic Marks, LLC, announced that his company was "GOING TO SAVE THE TOY INDUSTRY!" Strategic Marks is the current owner of the defunct KB Toys brand—and with Toys R Us gone, there's a market void that Kassoff thinks KB can fill.

KB Toys stores—formerly known as Kay-Bee Toys until a 1997 brand makeover streamlined the chain’s image—were an omnipresent sight at malls across the United States in the ‘80s and ‘90s. But by 2009, the company had filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and closed its last 460 stores. In 2016, though, the brand was bought by Strategic Marks, a company that “acquires and develops trademarks in order to rebuild old brands.” Some of these defunct brands the company has resurrected include Leaf Brands, Astro Pops, Wacky Wafers, Bonkers!, and Fruit Chews.

The plan as of now, according to Business Insider, is for the KB Toys renaissance to take the form of pop-up stores in time for the holidays, with an additional focus on online shopping. In his LinkedIn post, Kassoff said, “Well, with the demise of Toys R Us, this week, we have now accelerated our business plan and hope to have our stores up and running before Christmas. We're in discussions with many of the toy manufactures, as we try to find out the best way to support them and the 20% loss of the US toy market due to the Toys R Us liquidation.”

Due in part to its strategy of locating stores inside shopping malls and selling discontinued and discounted toys for a bargain, KB was one of the nation’s leading toy chains at one point, with 1300 stores spread throughout the country in 2001. If Kassoff pulls off his reclamation project, you might start seeing KB Toys stores popping up at your local mall before Black Friday.

[h/t Business Insider]