The Death of… Toys?

Could it be that the days of toys are over?

American toymakers have been in trouble for a while. Over the past 18 months the industry has lost about 500 shops. FAO Schwarz went out of business this year. KB Toys filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and closed 375 shops. Toys "R" Us, once the hottest toy retailer, is in the midst of a major restructuring. It has shut all its 146 Kids "R" Us stores and its 36 Imaginarium shops. It is trying to play down speculation that it is planning to leave the toy business. And even though Disney recently opened a new toy store on New York's Fifth Avenue with great fanfare, the company is largely getting out of toy retailing. This week it concluded a deal to sell 313 stores in America to Children's Place, a retail chain. Disney will keep only its Fifth Avenue store and those at its theme parks.

The toy industry really isn't that old. Most people 65+ never had anything except a wagon or some homemade toys. The industry isn't going to shut down, but as technology changes, the toy industry will take on a totally new form over time. Could toy stores end up like a "Sharper Image" for kids?

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