The Return Of KB Toys - New Details From Playcon

Yesterday and today are the dates for Playcon, the annual US toy industry symposium where important people from the field meet to discuss the future of toys. A digital town hall meeting was held in which the CEO of the resurrected KB Toys, Ellia Kassoff, detailed his plans for moving forward with the chain. Keep reading for a very long, very dry video, and highlights! Kassoff's presentation should begin about 48:40, or right after you press play.



Kassoff's brand-rebuilding company Strategic Marks plans to have 3-400 popup stores this holiday season, which will both take advantage of TRU's absence and serve as test-marketing for a broader permanent launch. He promises to hire key TRU personnel - some who were formerly from KB to begin with! - and aims to have KB just as people remember it - or about 80% as people remember it at any rate, with the goal of balancing modernization with nostalgia.

He promises no outside investors, especially no private equity firms of the type that contributed to TRU and KB's downfall, making deals specifically with the malls where the stores will be located. Kassoff also mentioned that the tension between the old KB and mall landlords due to KB's habit of putting lots of bins out front of the store is resolved: the malls need KB and KB need the malls.

Kassoff also promises collector events and roadshows, and ways to appeal to the collector market. He made mention of a resident "Toy Nerd" in each store, people who know their stuff and can tell collectors what they need to know. He also suggested the possibility of special events like autograph sessions with designers.

Lastly, Kassoff made mention of a new type of store: "KB Experience" stores will be larger, ToysRUs-style stores with cafe spaces for people to eat and rest, and also party rooms and registries for small kids. Gift-wrapping services are also being considered. Much of this comes from the suggestion of various parents and customers themselves.

When asked about supplying for the holidays, Kassoff explained that he was setting up shop in New Jersey - where TRU was located - and will be ready to buy for Christmas soon. His plans are very ambitious, but we like the sound of them and wish him luck.

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