The Rise of the New Toys R Us
The Toys R Us empire is attempting to make a comeback two years after their spectacular failure and bankruptcy. And they are partnering up with Big Tech to do it. Expect a launch in November, just before the holidays. Read more about it in this Forbes article.
Silicon Valley has a singular talent to turn everyday life into rocket science. One might argue that we are no longer looked at as “people” with emotions, desires, and needs. They’ve transformed us into “marketing targets” to sell more stuff to.
Apparently, investors, $40 million backed tech company joint ventures, and Silicon Valley CEOs are all you need to open two bricks and mortar retail stores with “reinvigorated” shopping experiences.
If only every local independent toy store merchant had that kind of support. They’d change the world!
Introducing the Data Collection Retailing Model
It begs the question: What are they going to do that is so groundbreaking? Well, they’re going to transform the “typical” toy shopping adventure into a clean, simple Apple Store buying process. No more shelves packed with the latest gadgets or classic toys where kids sit on the floor and play to their heart’s content. Instead they, and their parents, will be able to “interact” with toys at “stations” and get studied by computer sensors and product expert employees.
Yes, they want to collect data about you and your children so they can sell it. It seems that big retail and big brands need to learn how to create engaging retail experiences. Technology and human observers will help them do just that. Seriously.
Independent Toy Stores: Merchants Know How to do Retail
We don’t know where to start peeling the onion back. And we can’t anticipate how many layers there are. Our best guess is that we could write a 3,000 word manifesto-y essay on this topic. But, that wouldn’t translate very well as a post or a blog.
Let’s start with this: If someone wants to pay us $40 million, we’ll be happy to elaborate on the secret to success for bricks and mortar retail.
In the meantime, the good news is that we still have our coveted local independent toys and games merchants here in Oakland. While “experiential shopping” might be a mystery to Corporate America, it’s a no brainer for independent merchants. Our indies are brimming with valuable retail knowledge, imagination, and dedication to their shops, customers, and communities.
Local Independent Toy Stores in Oakland Have the Know-How
This translates into truly delightful shopping experiences. No analytics required.
If you have gamer kids, they’ll love It’s Your Move Games & Hobbies which is more like a community with an abundance of gamer events than it is a store. The fact that you can shop there is almost secondary.
Or Child’s Play in Rockridge which radiates with the joy of previously-loved playtime.
Of course, there’s also Kelly’s Corner a shop that was lovingly conceived as a refuge for moms and moms-to-be so they could take care of their oft forgotten needs. But, it’s also a joyfest to peruse the carefully curated toys, books, games, and
clothes that are new and/or previously loved.
And, in Montclair Village, there’s the Montclair Toyhouse. Standing outside this old school toy shop, you’d never guess it has such a vast selection of games, toys, crafts, books, and more to thrill both adults and children. No wonder they are the oldest toy store in Oakland at 50 years young!
Last but not least, is Adventure Toys on Lakeshore Avenue where the “adventure” is about nourishing the curious minds of children.
And there are several other shops that while not “toy stores” they do host a variety of activities to entertain and inspire little ones. Bring your kids to Bay-Made and sign them up for art classes so they can explore their talents and develop their creative vision. Flax Art and Design is inspiring our future artists every day with various programs. Mischief, in the Laurel District, has several events that nurture children and their parents too. The two we love most: “Little Folkies” sing-a-longs on Thursdays and “Babies and Beers” on Sundays.
These plucky proprietors already know how to share their space, guide us through their shops, and help us find just the right items to spark curiosity, imagination, and joy for any child–or child within.
All this magic happens without sensors, data collection, and analysis. There’s no need to participate for free in a Silicon Valley science experiment. And, no information about you will be sold.