Geoffrey Packs Up


The 550-pound statue of Geoffrey the Giraffe that stood in the lobby of Toys “R” Us headquarters in Wayne, New Jersey has found a new home about an hour’s drive away at Bristol-Myers Squibb Children’s Hospital.

Geoffrey first appeared as the company’s mascot in 1965. He starred in his first television commercial in 1973, and Jim Hanks, Tom’s brother, provided his voice. In those days, Toys “R” Us sold Geoffrey figurines, as well as LEGO sets and plush in his likeness.

Toys “R” Us was set to auction the statue, but realized it would difficult to find a buyer based on its height – 16 feet – and the expense associated with moving and installing it somewhere else.

Joseph Malfitano, whose Malfitano Partners were advisors on the liquidation of the chain’s assets, began in May to find a place that would take Geoffrey in. “I thought having this thing in a hospital would cheer kids up,” he told reporter Josh Saul for Bloomberg. Malfitano’s son has type 1 diabetes and receives treatment at a hospital near Denver that wanted the statue, but didn’t have the room. Several other interested hospitals passed for the same reason.

When a former colleague, Andrea Saavedra, saw Malfitano’s posting about the likeness on linked in, she connected him to the hospital, located in New Brunswick. “As a resident of New Jersey, I felt pretty strongly that this iconic piece of retail history stay in New Jersey,” she told Bloomberg.

Malfitano bought the mascot for an undisclosed amount, and then donated the approximately $10,000 it would take to remove, pack and ship it. Ken Rosen, chair of the bankruptcy department at the law firm Lowenstein Sandler, donated the cost of Geoffrey’s installation; approximately $6,000. The firm represented some vendors that were creditors to Toys “R” Us. Rosen is also a board member at RWJBarnabas Health, the health-care network that includes the hospital.

This Friday, all Toys “R” Us stores will be closed for good. The stores with a lot of inventory are offering discounts of between 60 and 80 percent, reports the ABC News’ Philadelphia affiliate. Stores with less stock will likely close sooner, but discounts are a bit better: up to 70 to 90 percent off.

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