In March Toys R Us announced it was closing for good and leaving 33,000 people out of work. But the Washington Post reports on the toy retailer's "complicated comeback," saying it has come "crawling back" from what looked to be a certain demise. Geoffrey (the chain's giraffe mascot) has "risen from the grave," as Business Insider puts it, with the chain setting up a presence for holiday shopping via Geoffrey's Toy Box pop-up shops in almost 600 Kroger and Kroger-owned stores around the country. "I've never seen something in our stores that our customers are so excited about," a Kroger rep says. Who isn't so excited: Ex-Toys R Us employees, one of whom says the pop-ups feel like "a slap in the face."
"It's hard to explain how it feels that the people responsible for liquidating the company are the ones that are doing this," a California man who was a Toys R Us employee for years tells the Post of the hedge funds that now own the company. An analyst also points out that, even though the crowds seem receptive to the idea of the Toys R Us pop-ups, "nostalgia only goes so far"—Geoffrey's Toy Box offers only limited, private-label brands (e.g., Imaginarium) that people may only buy in a pinch, not the hot brands people usually want around the holidays. "It's immaterial in the whole retail landscape," she notes. The 35 toys offered in the pop-up displays will cost between $20 and $50, per USA Today. As for what happens after the holidays: Sources tell the Chicago Tribune that the hedge funds may be planning a stand-alone relaunch next year. (A surprise announcement from Toys R Us in October.)