Toy Group Helps Members Navigate Toys R Us Liquidation
With the recent announcement from Toys R Us that it would liquidate all of its stores, The Toy Association has been working to help its members navigate the bankruptcy and the next year or two without the big-box toy store.
Earlier this month, Toys R Us announced it would liquidate its stores. This comes after the big-box toy chain filed Chapter 11 in the fall. To help its members navigate the bankruptcy and a new landscape without the major toy store in the picture, The Toy Association has been pushing out information and creating resources for its members.
“When [Toys R Us] filed this notice that they were going to liquidate the company, that really threw our members into a tizzy,” said Steve Pasierb, president and CEO of The Toy Association, adding that companies, which shipped products in January and February, are realizing they might not get paid. “And that’s a huge problem, and that’s when people suddenly begin to discover that they have and they need a trade association.”
After the initial Chapter 11 announcement, The Toy Association hosted a webinar to explain to members what was going to happen and how they could file claims.
“We had 170 members on there—and we don’t get 170 members to do anything other than come to Toy Fair, so there was a lot of attention, a lot of really good information shared, and it really helped some people to realize, they’ve got to get their claims in, how to deal with this, and what it means going forward,” Pasierb said.
In addition to webinars and calls, the association has also created a special section for members on its website dedicated to information and deadlines regarding claims—and is pushing all the details out through emailed member alerts and its weekly Toy News Tuesday e-newsletter.
And, after some members told the association they were not receiving this information, the group is taking the extra step of checking its email lists.
“That’s on us; that’s not on them,” Pasierb said. “Our job is to push the communications out and make sure they get through, so we’re looking at our email unsubscribes. We’re going back literally email address by email address to make sure some member didn’t accidentally unsubscribe from our financial stuff. So we’re doing an internal assessment, which I think is a big part of the learning from this.”
Although the Toys R Us liquidation isn’t unprecedented—stores like Lionel Kiddie City and KB Toys have closed before—it is unique in that it’s the last of the big-box toy stores.
Yet, despite all of this, Pasierb said “the market grew in the last three years, and the global market had its best year ever last year. So change will happen, things will move forward, our members will recover. Our job is to help them, guide them, and sometimes just hold their hands and give them a hug and let them know it’s going to be OK.”
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