Re­tail­ers scram­ble to ex­pand toy of­fer­ings, train new hol­i­day hires

The News Tribune - - Front Page - BY DEB­BIE COCKRELL dcock­rell@the­new­stri­bune.com

A big part of the land­scape for this year’s Black Fri­day was shaped as soon as Toys ‘R’ Us dis­ap­peared ear­lier this year, and area re­tail­ers are scram­bling to fill the toy void.

Train­ing also is a pri­or­ity for re­tail­ers, both for those who’ve added hun­dreds of work­ers to the ranks to greet you for the hol­i­days and those who have not.

And the money will be flow­ing.

Small, in­de­pen­dent re­tail­ers in the state will av­er­age $1,761 in rev­enue a day, mak­ing Wash­ing­ton 18th in the coun­try for av­er­age daily sales dur­ing the hol­i­day sea­son, ac­cord­ing to data sci­ence com­pany Wom­ply.

Last year, Thanks­giv­ing and Black Fri­day earned $7.9 bil­lion na­tion­wide just in on­line sales, ac­cord­ing Adobe An­a­lyt­ics.

To get those dol­lars and shop­pers in stores, re­tail­ers of all sizes need com­pelling in­ven­tory and work­ers who know how to sell.

TOYS

A lot of the toy pro­mo­tions will start this week­end. Here are some high­lights:

Teach­ing Toys and Books,

A with stores in Ta­coma and Gig Har­bor (Teach­ing Toys Too) wants you to re­mem­ber them as your non-chain op­tion.

Neigh­bor­hood Toy Store Day is Satur­day (Nov. 10), and the Teach­ing Toys store at 2624 N. Proc­tor St. in Ta­coma is of­fer­ing 20 per­cent of its sales to Com­mu­ni­ties in Schools Ready Set Read Pro­gram to boost ac­cess to books and li­braries through­out the area.

The store’s one-hour story time will start at 1 p.m. Other events will be hap­pen­ing at the stores that day, too.

For more in­for­ma­tion, go to its Face­book page: https://www.face­book.com/Teach­ing.Toys/

JC Pen­ney is part­ner­ing

A with Nick­olodeon to give 20 per­cent off Satur­day on Nick­elodeon toys from 11 a.m.-noon. as part of its monthly Kids Zone workhop. Last year the re­tailer ex­panded its toy of­fer­ings and in­stalled shops in its stores.

Kohl’s is go­ing with a toy

A store within its store with an “FAO Sch­warz ex­pe­ri­ence.”

The old-school toy brand jug­ger­naut, which had its own dis­ap­pear­ance and come­back, at one time was owned by Toys ‘R’ Us.

Speak­ing of Toys ‘R’ Us, it’s A now a re­named pop-up store in area Fred Meyer stores: Ge­of­frey’s Toy Box.

“We are ex­cited to of­fer Ge­of­frey’s Toy Box to our cus­tomers this hol­i­day sea­son, which will pro­vide ac­cess to toys once ex­clu­sive to Toys ‘R’ Us,” said Joe Grieshaber, pres­i­dent of Fred Meyer Stores.

The hedge funds now in con­trol of the Toys ‘R’ Us brand will see how this ven­ture goes with Kroger/Fred Meyer, with

hopes to re­open stand­alone stores next year, ac­cord­ing to Bloomberg.

And per­haps to stir up A nos­tal­gia a-la the Sears’ Wish Book, Ama­zon has mailed out “A Hol­i­day of Play,” its first toy cat­a­log.

TRAIN­ING

It can be hard find good help, at least in this econ­omy with low un­em­ploy­ment. Re­tail­ers are adding all kinds of in­cen­tives to at­tract work­ers to their open­ings.

CNBC re­ported this week that Kohl’s started sea­sonal hir­ing in June, with stores na­tion­wide ex­pected to hire 704,000 sea­sonal work­ers, the most since 2014.

Wal­mart didn’t go through the sea­sonal hir­ing rounds that other re­tail­ers did (work­ers sim­ply get more hours). In­stead, it’s tak­ing train­ing of its work­force to a vir­tual level at its Bon­ney Lake ca­reer academy so work­ers are ready.

Vir­tual re­al­ity train­ing was in­cor­po­rated by the re­tail gi­ant last year.

Us­ing vir­tual re­al­ity gog­gles, work­ers got a crash course on what to ex­pect on Black Fri­day.

“If you’ve never been in a Wal­mart store on a Black Fri­day, and now you’re a new man­ager, this is a chance for you to see what it’s go­ing to feel like,“Lisa Petrino, Wal­mart Academy fa­cil­i­ta­tor, told The News Tri­bune dur­ing a re­cent train­ing ses­sion.

“Should they make a mis­take, it’s a very safe place for them to make that mis­take here in train­ing, and then it helps them when they are ac­tu­ally in the field in re­al­ity.”

PETER HA­LEY pha­ley@the­new­stri­bune.com

Kennedy Na­tion, fore­ground, demon­strates mag­nif­i­cent pa­tience while her grand­mother, Kim Mapes, straight­ens out an is­sue with a pur­chase Fri­day at Kohl’s in Gig Har­bor.

JOSHUA BESSEX joshua.bessex@gate­line.com

Niki Har­ri­son, an Academy Fa­cil­i­ta­tor with Wal­mart, demon­strates the vir­tual re­al­ity tech­nol­ogy used in train­ing ses­sions with Wal­mart man­agers and su­per­vi­sors.

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