Independent stores take advantage of Toys R Us closures

Global Business

Dinosaur Hill in New York City just celebrated its 35th year in business. You’ll see lots of marionettes, mobiles and handmade toys. Its offerings are the anti-thesis of high tech toys.

CGTN’s Karina Huber took a look.

“I want people to engage, be involved, learn how to make things, learn how to build things and that feel good to touch and look at,” said Pam Pier, owner of Dinosaur Hill.

Pier, who was a pre-school teacher before owning a toy store, carefully curates what she sells. There are puppets from the Czech Republic and Tibet.

Choosing toys you can’t easily find has helped Dinosaur Hill survive the rise of Amazon and big box stores like Walmart, currently the biggest seller of toys in America.

Customers said they like the store for its unique offerings and attentive customer service.

“When I try to look on the internet for things, it’s kind of hard to search – like I don’t know what a two-year-old kid wants so I love to come to these places and look at the things and see what do the stores suggest. What are the options because I obviously don’t know,” said customer Cecilia McFall.

The store is also small and carries little inventory – which helps keep overhead costs low. Toys R’ Us was known for its enormous footprint and colossal rents.

After 70 years in business, Toys R’ Us recently announced it was closing or selling all of its U.S. stores raising questions about what that means for independent toy stores like Dinosaur Hill.

Toy industry expert Jim Silver believes the end of Toys R’ Us as we know it will be a boon to independent retailers.

“If you want to take your child for an experience – like a magical world, there’s nothing like a toy store. And so, we believe the independent stores are going to pick up business and as consumers visit them and some of them are really nice, business will continue to grow,” said Silver, CEO of TTPM.

Silver is more worried about the impact on small toy manufacturers who depend on Toys R’ US for a good portion of their sales. He said they’ll have a harder time finding an alternative.

He also predicts that by the end of 2019 another toy chain will hit the U.S. market filling the Toys R’ Us void and providing the next generation of kids the joy of getting close and personal with toys in a big way.

Shelley Kohan discusses the children’s retail market

CGTN’s Susan Roberts spoke to Shelley Kohan about the children’s retail market.