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Toys ‘R’ Us in ‘play’ mode


The nation's largest toy retailer wants everyone to take some time out to play.

Toys "R" Us announced that, this fall, it is launching "play labs" at 42 stores where kids (and parents) can play with some of the season's hottest toys. The retailer said that adults can use the lab to test the items on kids' holiday lists to check for age appropriateness before they make a purchase.

The rollout reflects the chain's new brand positioning, "Today We Play," which has been in the works for a long time, the retailer said. But it noted that the timing of this announcement is coincidentally symbolic "as our company continues to take the right steps to put us on a successful track for a bright future."

Toys "R" filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on Sept. 18 with a goal of restructuring its outstanding debt. Earlier this week, it closed on $3.1 billion of financing facilities that will support its operations during its restructuring process allow it to invest in various initiatives, including the renovation and modernization of its stores.

"Our new brand philosophy – Today We Play — leaves behind the 'transactional mentality' of our business and rallies our customers and communities behind an issue that is vital for children’s development – free, unstructured play," the company said on its corporate blog, No Assembly Required.

Toys "R" Us also plans to create experiential moments "in places where you would least expect it." Along those lines, on Oct. 6, the company will bring a giant, interactive Etch a Sketch screen to the Fulton Street Subway Station, New York City, reminding ground commuters "that EVERYONE needs some unstructured fun!”

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