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Toys 'R' Us returns with 'STEAM' workshops and smaller stores

The new stores will be more like playgrounds.
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In time for the holidays, Toys "R" Us parent company Tru Kids is planning to open two permanent stores. This time around, the stores will include things like theaters for movies and video games, STEAM (Science Technology Engineering Art and Math) workshops and a treehouse where kids can play. To pull it off, Tru Kids is partnering with tech retailer b8ta.

The first stores -- in Houston and Paramus, N.J. -- will be about 6,500 square feet, significantly smaller than the original Toys "R" Us stores that topped 30,000 square feet. Brands will have the option to pay to show off their products in "playground-like" environments, and they'll be able to engage directly with customers. "We have an incredible opportunity to entirely reimagine the Toys "R" Us brand in the US," said Richard Barry, CEO of Tru Kids.

This isn't the first time b8ta, which will own 50 percent of the venture, has helped a struggling retailer. It stepped in to help Macy's last summer. And in addition to offering "experiential" retail, it will provide Tru Kids with access to improved data and analytics. If all goes well, the partners hope to open more stores across the US.

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