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Old 2017-09-19, 03:24 PM   #1
Warcry
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Default So, Toys'R'Us are bankrupt...

They're probably not going to go out of business. Yet, anyway. But if they did, would it make much of a difference to any of us?

When I was a kid, I loved the place. And a decade and a half ago when this site spurred me to start collecting again, I'd guess I made about 75% of my toy purchases there because they were always the first to get stuff and they always had plentiful stock of multiple waves' worth of figures at a time. I got stuff at Walmart, Zellers and Superstore, sure, but TRU was my first stop. That changed a bit once I moved out, since I'd be at Walmart pretty frequently for other stuff and checking the toy department there was more convenient than making a special trip, but even then I'd still buy a lot at TRU because they usually had more selection.

But this year I've bought exactly two Transformers there -- one of them was a shelfwarmer that I sent off to Heinrad because his local stores skipped that wave. The other was a figure I'd seen two months earlier at Walmart and wouldn't pay full price for, but did grab while on sale. Mind you, for the first eight months of the year they had multiple coupon promotions that made it cheaper to shop there than online or local stores, so I always checked them out first when I was on the lookout for something new. And I still couldn't find anything to buy! They were always a wave or two behind at a minimum, and that's on the rare occasions when they actually had something in stock and hadn't just stuffed the Generations shelf space with random RiD or whatever else.

They've been doing a remarkably poor job of actually selling toys to me the last few years, so in a practical sense I probably won't miss them very much. But on the other hand, they're one of only two places that actually sell toys to any great degree in the city, and it would really suck if Walmart was the only game in town. Zellers is gone, Target is gone, Sears and the Bay stopped stocking toys regularly a decade ago, most of the close-out stores that sold off old stock are gone, and Real Canadian Superstore is retreating more and more from the idea of being a "department store" to focus on selling groceries, so their toy offerings have shrunk from a section as big as Walmart's to basically selling dollar store fodder. And I enjoy shopping for toys, so it kinda sucks to not have anywhere to actually do that.

I dunno. I guess I hope they get their shit together before they go out of business, and go back to being an actually useful store. But if the shambling corpse that they've been for the last couple years now is what they're going to be in the future, then I don't think it would actually impact me very much if they went under. Just one less disappointing place to stop during my weekly grocery trip.
 
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Old 2017-09-19, 04:30 PM   #2
ganon578
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I haven't bought Transformers from them in years. Most of the time I find them over-priced, rarely to go on clearance. And as you said, they're typically a wave or two behind. I usually lean on the Deluxe class, but it's really hard to pick one up there when I've usually found it for $5 less at Walmart a month or so previous.

I won't even start on Masterpiece stuff (that I don't buy) or large figs (that I usually don't buy, like TR Fort Max) that seems significant'y overpriced. When discount stores like Marshalls, Ross, and TJ Maxx are offering Fort Max for $50, how do you justify keeping the $150-170 price tag at TRU?

I think the only thing I've picked up there in recent history was their Multiverse Wonder Woman exclusive figure and Star Wars Infinity figures on deep clearance. Otherwise, I'm only in there when my kids have a gift card. I don't think I'll be too affected, though I don't quite like shopping Walmart.

Like you, I thoroughly enjoyed going there as a kid - it really had a sense of wonder about it - something I hope my kids can enjoy too. Here's hoping they don't go completely belly up.
 


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Old 2017-09-19, 07:23 PM   #3
Skyquake87
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TRU for me has always been something a bit hard for me to get to (until they opened one just a few miles from me a few years back - and in a city centre, which has got to be a first) as its always been at one of those out of town retail parks that America bequeathed the world. So, for the longest time, it just wasn't something I could shop at or get to easily (I don't drive).

Since I've had one on my doorstep, I have shopped there fairly frequently, but they've just become as hit and miss as every other retailer and part of that is down to the same old problems you'll hear from everyone who doesn't live in America : The waves system doesn't work for us!

In the UK, Smyths and The Entertainer have really stepped up and largely beaten TRU at their own game. Smyths in particular seems to have run with TRUs template and done it better - decent web offering, good product selection and - and this is key - stores that you can actually get to without having to make a 'special trip'. Out of town warehouse stores might make sense in the US for ...reasons, but here in the UK, they've always been an odd fit and a lot of these out of town barns have been struggling for a long time. Particularly since the internet arrived and made day long drives to these places unnecessary (witness the sad fate of Borders- no one goes to an out of town retail park to a bookshop).

I worked at TRU for a short period of time over Xmas 2010 and really enjoyed it. Although I'm still baffled with the American distribution system of blind receiving a tightly packed 40ft trailer's worth of individually boxed items ... and having no idea what you're getting or what you're actually going to end up having in stock. Sure, you've got a manifest, but its a crapshoot whether you've got what's on it.
 
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Old 2017-09-19, 08:27 PM   #4
Warcry
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ganon578 View Post
I haven't bought Transformers from them in years. Most of the time I find them over-priced, rarely to go on clearance. And as you said, they're typically a wave or two behind. I usually lean on the Deluxe class, but it's really hard to pick one up there when I've usually found it for $5 less at Walmart a month or so previous.
They don't overprice things here anymore, surprisingly enough! They used to, but now sell the lines I buy for the same price as Walmart, and unlike Walmart they actually have sales! So at least I can't complain about that. Now if only they had stock...

Quote:
Originally Posted by ganon578 View Post
I won't even start on Masterpiece stuff (that I don't buy) or large figs (that I usually don't buy, like TR Fort Max) that seems significant'y overpriced. When discount stores like Marshalls, Ross, and TJ Maxx are offering Fort Max for $50, how do you justify keeping the $150-170 price tag at TRU?
We don't have stores like that. Well, we actually do have Marshalls stores up here now, but the toy "department" is about twelve square feet. For whatever reason, most of our retailers have decided that toys aren't worth selling, not even in the loss leader capacity that Walmart uses them for. Which is silly because at least 25% of my grocery spending happens when I go in to a Walmart because someone posted a toy sighting and figure "Well, I'm here anyway, I might as well get..." and wind up leaving with $25 of groceries that I would have otherwise bought at Safeway even if I don't find the toy I was looking for. Used to do the same at Target, for the hour and a half or so that Target stores were open up here. Can't do it anywhere else now, even though I'd love to.

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Originally Posted by Skyquake87 View Post
In the UK, Smyths and The Entertainer have really stepped up and largely beaten TRU at their own game. Smyths in particular seems to have run with TRUs template and done it better - decent web offering, good product selection and - and this is key - stores that you can actually get to without having to make a 'special trip'. Out of town warehouse stores might make sense in the US for ...reasons, but here in the UK, they've always been an odd fit and a lot of these out of town barns have been struggling for a long time. Particularly since the internet arrived and made day long drives to these places unnecessary (witness the sad fate of Borders- no one goes to an out of town retail park to a bookshop).
The funny thing is that the city centres in most North American cities are in various stages of urban decay because no one wants to shop there. Most of the big downtown retailers in my city have either been boarded up or demolished, and the one that's still just barely hanging on is a shadow of its former self that the owners are literally trying to give away for free with no takers. No one lives downtown here because we have tons of space and it's way cheaper to build a new suburb than to redevelop inner-city areas that are past their best-before date (unless you're in New York City or one of the other small number of cities where geographic constraints prevent out-of-control sprawl). So the suburban big-boxes are closer to where people live than a downtown shopping district.

I think a lot of the North American retailers who've tried to get in on the European market have a hard time wrapping their heads around how different your cities are.
 
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Old 2017-09-19, 09:03 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Warcry View Post
I think a lot of the North American retailers who've tried to get in on the European market have a hard time wrapping their heads around how different your cities are.
I'll say.

The closest TRU to me is in the middle of freakin' nowhere and there's no public transit to take me there. Not that it matters, because from what I've seen, they don't even carry any exclusives here and it's so far away anyway that the transportation costs would make it cheaper for me to just keep buying everything online like I'm used to.
 
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Old 2017-09-20, 12:03 PM   #6
Denyer
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TRU in the UK has been old stock at premium prices (and with battered packaging) for about twenty years. However, go back that far and at least they were getting in current lines as well (I clearly remember Pretenders, Action Masters, Classic Heroes, G1-and-a-half, etc) -- so for example I got the 1985 AD&D 1st Ed. Lankhmar City of Adventure book years after 2nd Ed. had taken over, at some point in the 90s, from a TRU. Obviously handled for years, and with successive price stickers added to the cover.

Nothing's really changed. Lots of Marvel figures at more than online prices in knackered boxes.

I'm amazed they've hung on in the UK.
 
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Old 2017-09-20, 01:33 PM   #7
Cliffjumper
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The ones near us seem to get rid of stock quicker than they used to - not necessarily as in don't have shelves jammed with the first wave but are less likely to have something random five years old reduced to 1 or whatever; I'm guessing a lot of it gets shipped out to B&M/Home Bargains-type places. I used to go often enough to note about five pegs of Armada Laserbeaks just vanished in about a month around mid-Energon without seemingly getting reduced, though at the same time they memorably obliterated the prices for the Commemorative Series figures around the same time. Mind, Hasbro UK *generally* seem to have a fair handle on how much stock the country will take by-and-large, it's very rare to see the figures heavily reduced outside of supermarkets especially now whoever does the purchasing for Argos has stopped buying Masterpieces.

Also this.
 
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Old 2017-09-20, 04:06 PM   #8
Warcry
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There's some truth to that, sure. I've seen lot of people having nostalgic boo-hoos over it in the same breath as admitting that they hadn't been in the store in 20 years and buy all their kids' stuff off of Amazon. But I don't like the implication that this is somehow "our fault", because that absolves TRU themselves of any responsibility for their own demise. People didn't stop shopping there because we all decided to be jerks one day, we stopped shopping there because TRU's business practices suck. They can't keep popular lines in stock, overstock unpopular stuff that no one wants, and made a huge investment in baby products at exactly the moment that subscription services exploded and took a big bite out of retail sales.

Seriously, fresh diapers just show up at our doorstep once a month now and it's the best thing ever. Babies'R'Us would have to undercut Amazon's price by 10 or 15% just to make up for the convenience factor of not having to lug the damned things home. And that's not to mention the fact that they don't even stock the type we want! That right there is probably $400 in sales a year per kid for two-ish years that TRU can't even begin to compete for with their current business model.
 
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Old 2017-09-20, 08:46 PM   #9
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Exactly, you shop somewhere because they've got the stuff you want at a fair price. Or if you're like me, because you prefer going to shop and seeing stuff in person to get an idea of what a product is like and use the internet only if you can't find it anywhere else. Or if you just like the staff. I love my local hmv because there's a dude there who's got a good idea what I like listening to and recommends stuff to try
 
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Old 2017-09-22, 01:53 PM   #10
inflatable dalek
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It is one of those hard to care about the company things, but still a shame for the staff who have to put up with their increasingly idiotically run management driving a once successful firm into the ground (I am not projecting).

The nearest to me is in Merry Hill, which is a place I've been too maybe twice in the last ten years and one of those times they spent ten minutes trying to charge me 10p for a bag I'd already bought.
 
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Old 2017-09-22, 03:03 PM   #11
Warcry
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It is one of those hard to care about the company things, but still a shame for the staff who have to put up with their increasingly idiotically run management driving a once successful firm into the ground (I am not projecting).
After doing some more reading, it turns out that even with all the bad calls they've made lately the stores themselves are actually still turning a profit. The company is sinking because Mitt Romney and friends bought them in the 90s using borrowed money, then transferred the debt to TRU after the sale went through. So TRU has been making hundreds of millions of dollars in interest payments every year on money that they didn't actually borrow, while not being able to pay off the principle because their corporate overlords were more interested in extracting every penny they could from the business in management fees and dividends than they were in actually turning the company into a viable long-term asset. Which makes the whole thing even sadder for the folks that work there, because they're actually doing a good job but they're still probably going to wind up out of work because this sort of cartoonishly evil BS is somehow more profitable for the owners than actually running the company in good faith.

The extra sad thing is that the exact same group did the exact same thing to KB Toys, and that company eventually smothered under the weight of the debt and died off.
 
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Old 2017-09-22, 03:10 PM   #12
Red Dave Prime
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And I'm guessing the all those people who are owed money lose out big time as well with the bankruptcy. Hasbro, these are the men you should be going after with your team of lawyers.
 
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Old 2017-09-23, 07:16 PM   #13
Tantrum
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I won't even start on Masterpiece stuff (that I don't buy) or large figs (that I usually don't buy, like TR Fort Max) that seems significant'y overpriced. When discount stores like Marshalls, Ross, and TJ Maxx are offering Fort Max for $50, how do you justify keeping the $150-170 price tag at TRU?
To be fair, the only reason TJ Maxx, etc. sell stuff like Fort Max for $50 is that's the surplus stores like TRU didn't move. If $50 was really the going rate for Fort Max, Hasbro wouldn't make Fort Max.


Overall, TF distribution is bad enough that I'd pay the extra buck or two TRU charges if I found something there, just to be sure I didn't miss it. But, TRU doesn't seem to get stuff any quicker than other places. I think most of the stuff I've bought at TRU lately has been stuff I can't find elsewhere, like exclusive TLK deluxe Skullitron and Megatron, or LEGO Ideas.

There's 4 TRUs that I hit semi-regularly, at least once every 2 months. If some of them close, I should be able to get most of the TRU exclusives I want. But, only 1 of those 4 carries the new MP Optimus. I think they also stock the most TR boxsets. If that one closes, I may miss out on a few things.


Worse for me is Benny's, a regional chain, closing all 31 of their stores. The one mentioned here, where the employee didn't know about the closing until the reporter called to ask about it, is a 5 minute walk from my house.

They haven't carried CHUG in years, but their regular prices on RiD and Movie stuff matched Target, and they'd have 20% off sales every couple of months. I got a decent chuck of my RiD Warriors there for $12 each. Once they're gone, the only places for me to get TFs less than 40 minutes drive each way will be Wal-mart and Walgreens.
 

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