Toys R Us opens interactive prototype shop

Toys R Us opened an interactive toy shop this week in Santa Ana, California, modeled after its experimental Toy Lab store in New Jersey. The 25,000-sq.-ft. store will be one of four opening by the end of 2016 that will have a smaller footprint but more experiences for shoppers. 

The new format features bold red, yellow and blue walls and a play lab to test out new products. Aisles are specifically branded for merchandise, including American Girl, Lego and Star Wars toys, and buckets hold assorted toys ranging in price from $1 to $5.

Bright displays enhance the experience for shoppers. For example, the Lego section includes a Supergirl built out of Lego blocks.

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"It's important to us as a specialty retailer to create a world-class experience for our customers," Toys R Us told The Orange County Register in a statement. “We need to operate stores that are attractive, clean, technologically competitive and offer an engaging in-store shopping experience.”

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Three other interactive shops in Florida, along with the one in California, are part of a larger turnaround plan by the company's CEO Dave Brandon. The company has seen a drop in sales due to competition from online toy distributors.

The company is also testing interactive in-store displays including video screens, sound effects and motion-sensor lights. The stores will also host more gaming events and birthday celebrations.

Other long-term plans to spark growth include boosting online sales, opening more stores in China and the United States, and expanding its American Girl shop-in-shop concepts next year.

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The toy store chain also announced this week that it will open on the evening of Thanksgiving for 30 straight hours of Black Friday shopping.

The company joins several other retailers that have already announced openings on Thanksgiving, including Macy's.

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