The popular family-owned Cotswold shop Toys & Co. has put itself up for sale.
The company is downsizing and moving forward will only operate its flagship Greensboro location and its online store, Toys & Co. operations manager Marc Holcomb told the Agenda. The move is “mostly for financial reasons,” added Holcomb, who owns the business with his mother, Nancy.
In hopes of drumming up interest from a potential buyer, Marc Holcomb notified customers about the family’s decision to sell in an email to customers on Thursday. The Charlotte Ledger first reported the sale Friday.
“As much as we hate to leave the Charlotte market, it’s the right time for us,” Holcomb said.
Holcomb declined to share his selling price. But he did say he’s selling the 8,800-square-foot store in a “turnkey deal,” meaning it’ll basically be move-in ready for a new owner.
The store, a mainstay in the Cotswold Village Shopping Center for the last 12 years, will come fully furnished with everything that’s in it today — including the entire toy inventory, the gift wrap, the cabinets and the refrigerator in the back.
New owners could even opt to keep the Toys & Co. name through the holiday season, Holcomb said.
It’s no secret that these are especially challenging times for brick-and-mortar retailers. Grappling with slower foot traffic as more customers opt to shop online, Gymboree, Payless, Sears, Gap and Party City are all among some of the big-name retailers to have announced closures this year already.
Toys “R” Us filed for bankruptcy in 2017 and closed its remaining U.S. stores last summer. Industry watchers largely assumed that the death of Toys “R” Us would benefit other retailers that picked up the toy company’s former customers.
But Holcomb said that one big part of the Toys “R” Us demise was actually harmful for other toy sellers: Access to credit has become increasingly difficult.
“Most manufacturers became really conservative with extending credit because they couldn’t afford to get burned again,” Holcomb said.
The Toys “R” Us closures were a drag on the entire toy industry’s performance this year: For the first six months of 2019, the U.S. toy industry saw retail sales drop by $734 million, to $7.4 billion, a decline of 9% from last year, according to The NPD Group, a market research firm. Most of that drop was “largely a result of” the Toys “R” Us liquidation, NPD said.
Holcomb described his Cotswold store as “very viable” — it’s actually the company’s biggest and has the highest sales volume and the most foot traffic. “If I lived in Charlotte this would be the store we would keep,” said Holcomb, whose family is all in Greensboro.
If the company doesn’t find a buyer within a few months, Holcomb said the family may consider closing its Cotswold store altogether.
End of en era
Holcomb’s parents opened the first Toys & Co. in Greensboro in 1990, when he was a senior in high school. At its peak, Toys & Co. operated in four cities: Greensboro, Charlotte, Myrtle Beach and Winston Salem. Now, it’s down to just Charlotte and Greensboro.
Toys & Co. closed in Park Road Shopping Center in early 2015. The independently owned retailer told The Charlotte Observer at the time, the plan was to consolidate operations at its Cotswold store, then possibly expand in Charlotte.
Over the years, Toys & Co. has built a reputation for the unique experience it provides for kids who come in — it hosts crafting events, yoga sessions and music, for instance. Holcomb said that’s one way company’s worked to give itself an edge over online stores as well as big-box retailers like Target and Walmart since it can’t compete as well on price.
“We try to provide something you can’t get from shopping in those places or on the internet,” Holcomb said.