Toys ‘R’ Us to open 600 mall pop-up stores in time for holidays

Wayne, N.J. Toys “R” Us announced Thursday that it will open 600 temporary pop-up stores in malls and shopping centers around the United States in time for the 2010 holiday season.

The toy retailer, which has been working on the plan since last year and opened 90 of the stand-alone temp stores last holiday season, is taking advantage of vacant spaces left behind by defunct chains such as KB Toys to aggressively drive holiday purchases.

"We've been very aggressive during the economic downturn, and this is another aggressive action," CEO Jerry Storch said. "During the holiday season, mall traffic ramps up, and this will allow customers to purchase fill-in toys," when they are at the mall already, he said.

Openings of the pop-up stores launched in June and, according to the retailer, the pop-ups will continue to open through November. About 300 opened during the summer.

Toys “R” Us said most of the pop-up stores will close in January, although some could become permanent outlet stores, following last year’s model in which several of the pop-up stores opened last year currently remain open as outlet stores.

Toys “R” Us has practiced aggressive growth despite the downturn. In 2009 it acquired FAO Schwarz and Internet sites eToys.com, Babyuniverse.com and Toys.com. The chain currently operates 587 big-box stores and about 261 Babies “R” Us stores nationwide. It said in late May that it plans to go public by raising as much as $800 million in an initial public offering that would be one of the biggest retail IPOs in years. The retailer has not yet given a firm date for the IPO.