Toys ‘R’ Us returns as a zombie-like shell of its former self

Pop up shops are a common sight in today’s late-capitalist society and, by taking advantage of empty storefronts and cheap rents, online businesses are landing in physical places. That’s exactly what’s happening to the once-might Toys ‘R’ Us and it’s pretty sad.

According to iO9, the new pop-up shop in New Jersey isn’t actually a Toys ‘R’ Us. In fact, it’s basically a branded shell that holds other people’s products, much like a Wired store or B8ta store is a showroom for online gear. That means you won’t see “normal” toys there but experimental and weird crap nobody wants.

From the post:

But here?s where things get strange: Toys ?R? Us doesn?t seem to actually own what it?s selling. Instead, the former toy giant has become a marketplace leasing out space to different brands where they can promote and sell their own goods. That?s not all: The Toys ?R? Us website is powered through Target. Every single toy and product we clicked on at the website featured a link to buy the toy through Target. As far as we can tell, Toys ?R? Us isn?t technically selling anything on its own.?

There?s also the little detail in an?NBC report?that b8ta, the company who partnered with Tru Kids to create the new Toys ?R? Us store, has installed dozens of sensors in the ceiling of the store to ?monitor traffic patterns and shopper cadence? to see where kids and parents are going and what brands they?re more attracted to. That?s right: Toys ?R? Us is monitoring where kids go to produce data for brands.

Essentially Toys ‘R’ Us has become an information-gathering operation like the NSA only instead of data on the Taliban they’re watching your kids pick out action figures. The future kind of sucks, sadly.

John Biggs

John Biggs is an entrepreneur, consultant, writer, and maker. He spent fifteen years as an editor for Gizmodo, CrunchGear, and TechCrunch and has a deep background in hardware startups, 3D printing, and blockchain. His work has appeared in Men’s Health, Wired, and the New York Times.

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