Liquidation sales at most U.S. Toys “R” Us stores are scheduled to begin today and continue through the end of June, based on plans approved in court on Tuesday. Meanwhile, Ellia Kassoff, founder of Strategic Marks LLC, has announced on LinkedIn that his company is resurrecting K-B Toys, a retail brand it acquired from Bain Capital in 2016. He hopes to have stores up and running before Christmas.
Founded in 1922, K-B Toys was a chain of mall-based retail toy stores that, for a time, was Toys “R” Us’ biggest rival. At its height, it operated 1,300 locations in all 50 states. It went bankrupt in 2009 and Toys “R” Us purchased the rights to its name, reports CNN Money. Bain Capital was one of three investors in the 2005 leveraged buyout that took Toys “R” Us private.
Under the headline, “WE’RE GOING TO SAVE THE TOY INDUSTRY!” Kassoff said, “We’re in discussions with many of the toy manufactures as we try to find out the best way to support them and the 20-percent loss of the U.S. toy market due to the Toys “R” Us liquidation. We believe we will have the infrastructure in place and [hopefully] save the toy industry. If you are a toy manufacturer or distributor, or ex K-B Toys associate, please feel free to call us at 949-424-1664 or email us at email@example.com.”
The March 16 post explained that his company had been working on several models during the past year to make K-B competitive in both brick-and-mortar and online retail environments. Those plans were accelerated when Toys “R” Us announced its store closings last week.
Strategic Marks routinely purchases nostalgia-filled brand names and the rights to abandoned trademarks to spin them out into new businesses. In 2015 it re-launched Hydrox, for example, a brand of Oreo-like cookies.
K-B Toys’ return could start with pop-ups around the country during the holiday shopping season, said CNN Money, with permanent mall stores following later.
In a follow-up post on March 18, Kassof said that the response from the toy industry has been overwhelming. He noted: “Strategic Marks LLC has been very successful bringing back many of the most popular products and companies over the last 10 years … With #kbtoys, we had to also look at why it initially failed and to make sure those mistakes won’t be made again.”