I start to feel bad for the fate of doomed brick and mortar stores right up until the point when a sales associate at Lowe’s tells me that he doesn’t think they carry wire. In a time when Amazon will deliver a dental dam to your front door within one hour and then take back the dental dam for a full refund no questions asked, even though I’m sure they have questions, the relevancy of the shitty service endured to purchase full-priced items at inconveniently located retail stores comes into question.
In walks Toys ‘R’ Us, which just filed for bankruptcy after years of plummeting sales and mismanaged stores. Dave Brandon, future ex-chairman and chief executive of Toys ‘R’ Us, boasts of his failure:
Today marks the dawn of a new era at Toys ‘R’ Us where we expect that the financial constraints that have held us back will be addressed in a lasting and effective way. We are confident these are the right steps to ensure that the iconic Toys ‘R’ Us and Babies ‘R’ Us brands live on for many generations.
The Washington Post suggests that the brand’s implosion was contributed to by:
…lousy in-store customer service, a second-rate website and prices that are often higher than at many of its big-box competitors. Add to that piles of mounting debt — much of it dating to a 2005 leveraged buyout — and it was clear, many said, that the 60-year-old brand was in trouble.
For as much as the retro gee-whiz appeal of a physical toy store pulls at the heartstrings, brands need to learn the hard way that stores with all the aesthetic appeal of a neutron bomb crash site (why are Toys ‘R’ Us stores always so sad looking?) and asshole employees don’t lead to sales. Plus, many kids have moved past action figures, favoring chatting online with predators about who to kill for Slender Man. It’s a changing world, and people will gradually forget about the existence of tragic strip mall stores with the opening of each Amazon Prime package waiting at their doorstep. Employee who looks like he just got out of jail not included.
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