Tuesday, 6 March 2018

Toys R Us: A chain which failed because it couldn't not escape The Real

A man with desperate, terrified eyes is explaining the dimensions of his child to a woman standing in a queue. The queue is very long and snakes its way around half of the Toy R us shop. I can empathise with the man’s terror as I lost my own son ten minutes earlier. I found him again, thank god. He was panicked, eyes welling up and racing around the isles trying to find lower legs that resembled mine. He is with me now, my hand gripped firmly over his.

“Has anyone lost a child?” another woman in the store shouts. She is triumphantly holding up a boy of around three wearing a wooly hat and blue jacket. He looks like many of the other children here today, including my son. The man in the queue bellows, “I have! He’s mine!” The look of terror is washed away by relief. Not completely, however, as the memory is still raw.

“This queue is too long,” I say to my daughter and son. “It will take hours to pay. Let's go home.”
My son begins to wail. My daughter - at six years old able to to cope with disappointment better - says, “But Daddy, it took ages to find something.”

She is right. We’ve been here over an hour and after trawling through the store several times we finally found some tat within budget that they were moderately happy to buy. We were hoping for massive discounts at the defeated toy chain’s closing down sale. The discounts were pitiful: ten to fifteen percent on selected items (Who needs a badminton set at this time of year?) I guess they wanted to get as much from their stock as possible before the company's stock is erased from the market.

“We can find something better on the internet,” I say. “Come on, let’s go get something to eat. Anyone fancy an ice-cream?” The bribe halts my son’s wailing.

“Can we order anything off the internet, Daddy?” My daughter is beginning to see the positive trade-off.

“Not anything, anything within budget. You will have a lot more choice.”

“Can I buy Super Mario?” asks my son.

“Yes, we can look for a Super Mario,” I say.

“OK, Daddy,” let’s go, says my daughter. “Come on,” she says to her brother, “we you can get something much better than that bouncy ball.”

We leave the Toys R us, probably for the last time, and I take a photo for record. Driving home I reflect on how sad it is when a toy store closes but then contrast this with the experience we’ve just had.

There was nothing magical or exciting about our visit, and that is where Toys R us failed. To compete with the online stores such as Amazon it needed to do so much more to make a trip with the kids something special - and get me to buy something.

Even in is last opportunity to shift merchandise off its shelves it failed to stop me going home and ordering something off an online competitor. And I new where my kids where throughout the entire transaction.


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