On the heels of Toys “R” Us second departure from the Houston area (which I unfortunately have no photos of). I wanted to take a look at a store that TRU opened in Houston only months before their bankruptcy. You might be thinking, oh I already know all about Geoffrey’s Toy Box, however that was deployed post bankruptcy! You might even think, oh well duh everyone knows about the rural, child-sized Wal-Mart stores simply named Geoffrey (You should really check out those photos). Don’t be fooled though, the investment firm who ended up with TRU found one last way to wring of the neck of a beloved mascot with Geoffrey’s Bargain Box of Toys. This was a last-ditch effort by Toys “R” Us to raise funds prior to their bankruptcy. The concept was intended to serve as an outlet for “discount” merchandise which included a selection very similar to Toys “R” Us. The differences however were many, for one the stores used temporary racks and shelving, similar to what you would find in a Halloween Costume Conversion. Other costing saving measures included keeping the store minimally staffed, un-staged, not using displays, and limited signage. To save on costs TRU opened Geoffrey’s locations in existing stores, and only used a limited amount of space. Around 10,00 square feet or about the size of a small Dollar Store.
It seems that one of the first stores to open was a pilot location in Virginia, although I’m unable to find an address. Another location which you can see a video of was a reused Bed Bath and Beyond in Philadelphia Mills Mall which was open by Fall of 2017. A few other stores were underperforming locations that TRU had closed but not been able to sublet. Including a location in California, and one in New Jersey that would never end up opening. One other former TRU was converted to a Geoffrey’s Bargain Bin, however this was not done due to the lagging sales at the store. Rather, the Toys “R” Us location in Humble closed due to the flooding of the San Jacinto River during Hurricane Harvey on September 2nd, 2017. As you can see in this video the store had to be gutted and stripped down to the bare walls. After being forced to demolish the store, a race was on to get it back open before the Christmas shopping season. This location was prominent sitting right across the highway from Deerbrook Mall and had always been a popular stop for shoppers. It was one of the few full size toy stores in the area. The Geoffrey’s concept fit in perfectly and the new store opened in November just before the Black Friday shopping rush.
The store proved to be a hit with shoppers even after the Christmas season as seen in this review. Although the management stated the store intended to re-open the store later in 2018 as a mainline Toys “R” Us, this would never occur. Unlike the other Geoffrey’s locations which made it through various stages of bankruptcy, the Humble location closed sometime in January 2018. There was some intent to reopen the store as the vestibule and foundation underwent some renovations. It seems that the contractors stopped getting paid around the same time as the vendors and left the store in a torn apart state and stripped of anything valuable like lighting. In 2018 the city of Humble took possession of the property. Other than performing some basic maintenance like filling in open trenches and removing hanging insulation left by contractors the building has remained untouched since 2018. While the brand ultimately failed as a whole, this concept was definitely in the right place at the right time. Enjoy some photos of my shopping trip to the Humble, TX Geoffrey’s location!