News

Toys ‘R’ Us in ‘play’ mode

BY Marianne Wilson

The nation's largest toy retailer wants everyone to take some time out to play.

Toys "R" Us announced that, this fall, it is launching "play labs" at 42 stores where kids (and parents) can play with some of the season's hottest toys. The retailer said that adults can use the lab to test the items on kids' holiday lists to check for age appropriateness before they make a purchase.

The rollout reflects the chain's new brand positioning, "Today We Play," which has been in the works for a long time, the retailer said. But it noted that the timing of this announcement is coincidentally symbolic "as our company continues to take the right steps to put us on a successful track for a bright future."

Toys "R" filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on Sept. 18 with a goal of restructuring its outstanding debt. Earlier this week, it closed on $3.1 billion of financing facilities that will support its operations during its restructuring process allow it to invest in various initiatives, including the renovation and modernization of its stores.

"Our new brand philosophy – Today We Play — leaves behind the 'transactional mentality' of our business and rallies our customers and communities behind an issue that is vital for children’s development – free, unstructured play," the company said on its corporate blog, No Assembly Required.

Toys "R" Us also plans to create experiential moments "in places where you would least expect it." Along those lines, on Oct. 6, the company will bring a giant, interactive Etch a Sketch screen to the Fulton Street Subway Station, New York City, reminding ground commuters "that EVERYONE needs some unstructured fun!”

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ECOMMERCE

Supermarket retailer to test curbside pickup

BY Marianne Wilson

Publix Super Markets is ramping up its grocery delivery services.

Beginning Sept. 28, the supermarket chain will begin testing curbside grocery pickup at a store in Wesley Chapel, Florida, and another in Valrico, Florida. In addition, Publix's Metro-Atlanta stores will begin testing the service by the end of this year.

“We’ve had great success with Publix Delivery powered by Instacart, and the demand for online grocery services has continued to grow. So we’re excited to test Publix Curbside and learn more about how to best meet the evolving needs of our customers,” said Maria Brous, director of media and community relations.

Publix has been aggressively rolling out grocery delivery since July 2016. By the end of this year, Publix Delivery will be available from more than 90% of its stores.

Publix has 1,155 stores in Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia.

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News

Unlikely partners collaborate on exclusive clothing line

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

What happens when a fast-fashion giant crosses a leading fast-food company? For two companies, it spurred a new fashion collection.

Forever 21 and Taco Bell are teaming up to launch an apparel line called The Forever 21 x Taco Bell collection. The line features tops, bodysuits and cropped hoodies for women a sweatshirt, hoodie and anorak jacket for men, and graphic tees, a pullover and hoodie for girls. All merchandise features each brand’s iconic graphics highlighted by a mix of vibrant prints and colors.

The collection will be available in select Forever 21 stores and globally online beginning Wednesday, Oct. 11. A preview event will be held in the Fashion District in Downtown Los Angeles on Oct. 10.

“We are excited about this partnership with Taco Bell,” said Linda Chang, Forever 21 VP of merchandising. “Food, like fashion, is driven by trends and culture. Merging fashion and food in this collection gives our customers a new way to experience both our brands.”

Taco Bell also expects to benefit from the partnership, especially since both companies share an affinity for “original, affordable merchandise,” according to the fast-food giant.

“We often think of Taco Bell as 'the fast fashion of food,’ given how we continuously introduce innovative limited edition products that everyone can enjoy,” said Marisa Thalberg, chief marketing officer at Taco Bell Corp. “So when it came to our first-ever retail collaboration, we knew our partner had to be the leader in actual fast fashion.”

Forever 21 operates more than 830 stores globally.

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