The closing of Toys R Us retail outlets nationwide is yet another example of the ongoing change and evolution of the toy industry and retail landscape. We anticipate that in the weeks and months to come, we will all be impacted by the many ripple effects of these changes that present themselves in the form of potential challenges and areas of opportunity.

Potential Challenges

  • Toys R Us’ liquidation distracting consumers with deeply-discounted prices and sparking a renewed focus on finding the lowest prices;
  • The loss of an anchor tenant in shopping areas where the anchors help lure shoppers to the benefit of smaller retailers;
  • The loss and/or acquisitions of small and mid-sized manufacturers;
  • Reduced investment in research & development for larger manufacturers posting a loss with Toys R Us;
  • Inability of manufacturers to offer the same kinds of terms to retailers (product specials, freight discounts, larger minimums);

Areas of Opportunity

  • After it is all said and done, independent retailers may have new customers who are looking for a new place to purchase toys and create family memories;
  • Landlords will be actively looking to find tenants for locations that are not owned directly by Toys R Us;
  • Larger retail spaces remodeling for multiple occupants due to a decrease in expansion from big box tenants;
  • Manufacturers looking to independent retailers for growth

In the midst of challenges and opportunities, one thing remains constant: children will always need fun toys and play experiences to support healthy child development. ASTRA is committed to supporting the independent retailers, manufacturers and sales representatives who provide these toys and play.

Although Toys R Us is making headlines this week, ASTRA is, on an ongoing basis, fielding media requests (see the official media statement) and advocating for ASTRA members, who are passionate about the power of play and products that support play. This work never stops and doesn’t only happen when toys are in the headlines – at ASTRA, it happens every day.

In response to retailers receiving requests from the media to provide interviews and quotes, we have developed key talking points documents to help retailers prepare. Here is a snapshot of ASTRA members in the media:

To help members further understand the ramifications of the industry changes, we are developing a series of articles:

  • Explanation of Chapter 11 compared to Chapter 7 and what it means for manufacturers;
  • How to reach out to local media and answer media inquiries and share the message of what independent retailers can provide;
  • Identifying the short-term impact on sales and surviving the pinch;
  • Renegotiating your lease if your shopping area has lost an anchor;
  • Navigating product fulfillment as your manufacturer pool changes.

As the retail landscape and toy industry continue to evolve, ASTRA is here to support you. Founded on the power of play, the organization is dedicated to supporting its specialty toy stores, manufacturers, sales representatives and affiliate members, especially in times of change. We are mighty together as we journey through the changes in an industry dedicated to changing the world through the power of play. I have heard from many members but please continue to offer your thoughts, insights and ideas to help us find the best options to serve the members and the specialty industry.


Kimberly Mosley portrait. Photo by Andrew Collings.
Kimberly Mosley, CAE is the President of the American Specialty Toy Retailing Association (ASTRA). Kim has been a leader in the association industry for more than 20 years with experience in technology. She is a member of the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) and Association Forum where she served in many leadership roles including serving as chair of the Diversity Workforce Committee. In 2002, she was awarded the Diversity Executive Leadership Scholarship and in 2003, she earned distinction as a Certified Association Executive.  She also lectures, blogs and writes articles on association management and technology.