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The Los Angeles Times reports that Toys R Us is testing “Geoffrey” stores, named after its giraffe mascot, that build on the chain’s traditional toy selection game with groceries, barber and beauty parlor services for kids, party rooms, photo studios and play areas.

The goal, according to the company, is to make the stores more of a year-round destination, with less reliance on holiday periods for sales and profits.

Four versions of the stores exist, all between 40,000 and 45,000 sq. ft. in size. The company plans to expand the concept to other existing stores during 2003, though no specific target numbers were given.
KC's View:
We were in a Toys R Us the other day for the first time in a long time (we leave that duty to Mrs. Content Guy), and noticed that it has totally reorganized the mix to be more thematic and age-oriented, rather than following the traditional aisle pattern it used to employ. It’s a much better layout, though a little tough to navigate the first time in.

That said, we think that if Toys R Us is going to start developing grocery sections targeted at kids, that is a pretty clear signal that maybe supermarkets ought to be following the same logic – creating sections that offer kids products specific to them, and even teach them about nutrition, food preparation, and other related issues.

If the supermarket industry doesn’t do it, some other venue will. And then the grocery folks will start whining about how “alternative formats” are taking away their business.

Alternative formats only work because supermarkets don’t offer consumers alternatives.