Update on KB Toys (Toy Association Town Hall Meeting)

At PlayConEllia Kassoff did a panel discussing the future of KB Toys (Kay Bee Toys). Here’s some highlights from the video.

  • Ellia Kassoff, CEO of Strategic Marks, acquired the KB Brand “about a year ago”. His company, Strategic Marks, is the “leader in the retro space”. (See his retro candy company, Leaf Brands.) They rebuild brands, keeping the charm of a well-loved brand, while “tipping the hat and bringing it to the 21st century”. Their goal is to make the new iteration feel like the original, so that parents are just as excited to shop at KB as their kids!
  • They’re in talks to hire some of the Toys R Us family to work on the KB brand, some of whom started out with KB originally. Many are from the Toys R Us Express team, so they’re used to putting up multiple temporary shops in a short amount of time.
  • They foresee 300-400 pop up stores in place for this 2018 holiday season. Why pop up stores? Pop up stores can be set up quicker than permanent locations. More importantly, pop up shops are a valuable tool to test the market and see what locations would benefit from a permanent space.
  • To improve the shopping experience, they’re working with toy insiders, mommy/collector groups, etc to help build “the best toy chain from the ground up”.
  • The goal is to get 600-800 permanent stores up and running in the next 3 to 4 years.
  • They will not be using outside investors to fund the brand. (This is what ruined KB and Toys R Us. Just google Bain Capital and Toys R Us or KB Toys.)  Ellia went straight to the malls and approached them to become investors, as KB is a staple in the mall landscape. All of their funding for this venture will be coming from large mall chains. Because these malls would have a vested interest in keeping the brand alive, some of the ailments that KB faced before with renting space, display restrictions and the like are “out the window”.
  • KB ‘experience stores’ will be a larger format store, about the size of Toys R Us. They could feature a cafe, party room, birthday party registries, demos and more. These larger stores will be an extension of the smaller mall locations. Experience stores will allow more space to showcase smaller toy companies/brands, which could then be moved over to the mall locations.
  • He sees the staff being well versed in toys, “toy nerds” is the term used. Ellia wants people who really love toys to work in the KB Stores; people who have a passion for the industry.

If you want to give it a listen, the video should start right at the point where Ellia begins. If not, fast forward to 48 minutes in.

I’m really excited for this! Fingers crossed a pop up location heads our way so we can do a ‘Walkin’ the Toy Aisles’ post from there! It looks like KB Toys and the crew behind it are really working hard to put together the next big toy chain! What do you think of their plans? Let us know in the comment area!

May 10, 2018. Tags: . Uncategorized. 2 comments.

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