For generations of Houstonians, Toys “R” Us stores were a childhood wonderland. The endless aisles of goodies, the iconic and affable spokes-animal, Geoffrey the Giraffe, and even the streaming, ubiquitous jingle conjured up a perfect playground for kids of all ages.
But the dawn of Internet shopping meant the end of many beloved brick-and-mortar operations, including Toys “R” Us, which ended its 70-year run in 2018. The shutter marked the end of an era; adults bid farewell to their days as “Toys ‘R’ Us kids,” as the song declared them.
Houstonians who don’t want to grow up, however, are in luck. Toys “R” Us is making a Bayou City comeback, with news of a new opening in the Houston Galleria, just in time for the holiday season.
According to a release, parent company Tru Kids and b8ta, a software-powered experiential retailer, have entered into a joint venture to launch a new experience that will deliver the hottest toy products and brands, carefully curated and showcased in highly immersive smaller-format spaces.
The Houston outpost joins a location in Westfield Garden State Plaza in Paramus, New Jersey, as the first two centers in the nation. The new stores promise to be “highly interactive with new events and activities every day, from seeing toys displayed out of the box to test before making a purchase, to visiting different brand stations to driving learning through play embracing STEAM, or just having fun with Geoffrey the Giraffe in the open playspace,” according to a statement.
Not surprisingly, the new iteration of Toys “R” Us will be high-tech. Toys will be displayed in an interactive, playground-like environment, creating an “entirely new retail experience centered around product discovery and engagement,” per the statement.
Expect the Galleria location to be jam-packed during the holiday season. Could the Galleria spot yield more Houston homes for Geoffrey’s wares? The companies plan to open additional locations in prime, high-traffic retail markets within the U.S. over the course of 2020.