Claire’s brings its bling to Toys ‘R’ Us

Sep 25, 2014

Claire’s, the "tween" accessories chain best known for its glittery barrettes, plans to open in-store shops at 12 Toys "R" Us stores in the U.S. by the end of the year.

The Claire’s-branded shops have been tested for 18 months inside Toys "R" Us stores in Europe. They will feature Claire’s distinctive purple signs and will sell the "hottest trending" assortment of jewelry, headbands, legwear, jewelry holders and other accessories found in Claire’s stand-alone stores. Claire’s branded shops will also be expanded to 100 Toys "R" Us stores in Europe.

The partnership exposes Toys "R" Us to the young fashionistas who shop Claire’s while also exposing Claire’s to a new customer and to the holiday traffic the toy chain enjoys.

Association with Claire’s works toward TRU’s objective of improving its appeal to tween girls, according to Sean McGowan, managing director of Equity Research for Needham & Co. "Selling Claire’s merchandise probably makes it more appealing to a young consumer (or her mother) since it doesn’t have the issue of being so closely associated with very young kids and babies," Mr. McGowan told MediaPost.

TRU Claire's

Two of the Claire’s store-within-a-store concepts debuted last week in New York’s Toys "R" Us Times Square flagship and FAO Schwartz, owned by Toys "R" Us. They will be the only ones to offer ear-piercing services. The remaining 10 of the U.S. spots will open by the end of October.

Facing slower growth inside malls, many specialty chains have recently opened shops inside department stores, such as Sephora beauty boutiques inside Penney, Finish Line’s women’s athletic footwear shops inside Macy’s, and Lids fan apparel shops also inside Macy’s. In most cases, however, the specialty store takes over a category for the department store; Claire’s is basically introducing a new category to Toys "R" Us.

Does tween jewelry and accessories make sense inside Toys “R” Us? Can in-store shops from specialty chains be a faster way to establish new categories for retailers?

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7 Comments on "Claire’s brings its bling to Toys ‘R’ Us"

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Dave Wendland
7 years 7 months ago

Let me first speak to the general idea of inserting specialty chains into existing retailers to create a store-within-a-store concept. I’m VERY enthused about this and have been recommending it often.

The key, however, is to ensure that the category fits within the DNA of the base retailer. Honestly, I have concern about Claire’s success in Toys “R” Us. To my knowledge not many tweens find themselves walking the aisles of a Toys “R” Us, which I feel limits its likely success. Time will certainly tell on this one.

Lee Kent
7 years 7 months ago

I too love the store-within-a-store concept and view it as a win-win as long as the brands complement. Not feelin’ this one.

Perhaps if there were some hot new toy(s) specific to the tween target market that enjoys Claire’s, it would be a great promotional concept. As a permanent fixture, I really don’t see much synergy. That’s just my two cents.

Carlos Arámbula
7 years 7 months ago

It makes sense for Toys “R” Us. It’s very convenient for parents—especially during the holidays. It also keeps the parents in the Toys “R” Us franchise longer. However, as a parent of tween girls, I know that at this stage brands and image become important. It’s inevitable. To a tween girl, the mall, not Toys “R” Us, is a choice destination. I suspect that the association might devalue the Claire’s brand in their eyes.

George-Marie Glover
George-Marie Glover
7 years 7 months ago

I, too, think that it is a great idea to add specialty retail boutiques within larger format stores as long as they complement each other’s brands.

If I had tween daughters (or nieces or granddaughters) and was holiday shopping for younger children as well, I would jump at the opportunity to purchase items from Claire’s while at Toys ‘R’ Us. In that respect, I think holiday sales would be a boost.

I question, however, how sales would fare the rest of the year.

Chuck Palmer
7 years 7 months ago

Retail is about the fresh and new. Consumers are always looking for something new and interesting. The idea of retailers and brands cross-pollinating makes sense and is a proven success strategy.

Not sure about this one. I think my colleagues above are getting to the heart of the matter: are there enough Claire’s customers to support these shops in TRU?

I expect a relative small portion of transactions come from a customer buying for an end user (Mom buying for daughter) but rather the end user buying for herself.

Will that young woman be at TRU and shopping with a mindset that she would in a mall? Doesn’t seem like it.

On the other hand, this seems to be working for both parties in Europe. If this is a demand-driven real estate play, I could see it, but at first glance, I’m not feeling it either.

Karen S. Herman
7 years 7 months ago

A branded destination experience for tween girls at Toys “R” Us is a great play and a win/win for both retailers. Claire’s can showcase their trendiest fashion forward products and have zero competition from other sources, as would exist in a mall. Toys “R” Us can bring a new tween demographic of foot traffic through stores to shop at Claire’s, and then entice them to purchase anything from beading supplies to video games. And, let’s face it, who does not like toys?

These may be tween girls that are getting to be more selective about where they shop, but if the targeted email, social media and in store signage campaigns that Toys “R” Us is creating to promote these in-store shops is authentic, hip and cool, in my opinion, the tween girls will love it.

vic gallese
7 years 7 months ago

#1 – It is worth a 12 store gamble.
#2 – Absolutely!

There are plenty of success stories to validate this strategy: Sephora, Starbucks, etc.

The key is to pick the right store merchandise complement, volume and demographics, and move SLOWLY!


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