Toys ‘R’ Us Shutdown Helps Pave Way for Resurrection of KB Toys

(Bloomberg) -- The same entrepreneur who brought Hydrox cookies back to life now looks to do the same with KB Toys Inc., aiming to fill a void left by Toys “R” Us Inc.

Ellia Kassoff and his firm, Strategic Marks LLC, plans to open 1,000 or more pop-up stores by the holiday season under the KB name, he said in a phone interview. Strategic Marks acquired the brand about a year ago following a stint when it was owned by Toys “R” Us.

Kassoff’s firm has a history of restoring brands that previously left the market, including the Hydrox cream-filled chocolate sandwich cookie that once competed with Oreos. Many of the brands had trademarks that went unused, despite their potential for making a comeback, Kassoff said.

With KB Toys, he feels like he has an opportunity to shore up a faltering industry. Toys “R” Us accounted for about 12 percent of the U.S. market last year, according to NPD Group Inc., leaving a big potential hole to fill.

In KB Toys’ heyday, it was a fixture of shopping malls and sold everything from dolls and party supplies to video games. The company, founded in 1922, eventually succumbed to the growth of big-box chains, including Walmart Inc., Target Corp. and Toys “R” Us itself.

With the resurrection, Kassoff aims to create a more nimble chain that can better compete. The landlords of malls and shopping centers may be a key ally. They’re eager for tenants, including pop-up stores. Kimco Realty Corp. launched a new program Monday to streamline the process for pop-up retailers to find locations, saying it has seen growing consumer interest.

That said, the smaller size of some pop-up locations makes it harder to offer much inventory, said Lindsay Dutch, a real estate analyst at Bloomberg Intelligence.

“How many toys can they really fit?” Dutch said.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.

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