For more than 60 years, Toys“R”Us has been helping kids be kids and grown-ups to revisit their childhoods by providing one of the largest selections of top-brand toys, electronics, games and everyday baby essentials. Founder, Charles Lazarus, revolutionized the toy business by modeling his stores after supermarkets, providing a variety of options to suit varying ages and interests and offering customers to help themselves and have fun in the process. Today, that sense of playfulness is evident at nearly 600 stores in the United States alone, including a flagship location in Times Square where kids are greeted by a 60-foot Ferris wheel, a 5-ton animatronic T-Rex, and a life-sized, 4,000-square-foot Barbie house.
Beyond everybody's favorite bikes, trains and video games, each Toys“R”Us store keeps its shelves stocked with the season’s must-have toys as well as nostalgic standbys that never go out of style. Time-tested brands such as LEGO, Radio Flyer, NERF and Fisher-Price share the shelves with an expansive selection of electronics for older kids, including Wii U and tablets. And though the company has inspired generations of boys and girls to try their hardest not to grow up, it also strives to ensure budding brains develop right on track by devoting a significant portion of its stores to “smart-play” with a wide selection of electronic learning toys and software.
Toys“R”Us—whose extended family of brands includes Babies“R”Us and FAO Schwarz—has earned a number of awards and recognitions through the years, including a spot on Fortune’s list of the World’s Most Admired Companies in 2012. The company has also drawn considerable recognition for its expansive charitable efforts, which include partnerships with the Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation and Save the Children. This year also marks the tenth consecutive year that the company has partnered with the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation to collect new, unwrapped toys and monetary donations in its stores to benefit the organization.
Garbing players for film and vaudeville since 1917, The Costumer's collection of timeless and updated ensembles bedecks torsos for theater and seasonal holidays. Racks of Halloween costumes ready denizens for dress-up with attire such as the toga outfit for women ($19.98) and men ($19.98). Freddy Krueger costumes ($19.98) dress teens for evenings of pumpkin-popping mischief, and the Li'l Scarecrow outfit ($19.98) helps toddlers ward off parakeets dangling from mobiles. Costume and theatrical makeup kits blot color onto complexions for self-made masks, and accessories and props help accentuate costumes and homes with decorative dash. For more intricate costumes, patrons can apply the Groupon to getups such as the Ghost of King Louis XVI costume ($55.98) or dress as the Internet by gluing strands of HTML onto limbs.
The key to Zazzle.com?s success isn?t a 3,000-strong stock of T-shirts, phone cases, and accessories?it?s the fact that customers can express themselves on products before they're printed and shipped, generally within 24 hours. The website?s user-friendly design interface allows customers to affix their favorite pictures to messenger bags, scrawl personalized messages on coffee mugs, or insert their favorite movie character into family portraits. Zazzle.com also showcases designs from creative customers around the globe and big names such as Disney, Marvel, and The Who. Each product is made to order and bears a 100% satisfaction guarantee.
Parents and kids enter Polly Wolly Doodle to forage through baby supplies, toys for children about 10 years old and younger, and board games that challenge the strategy skills of all ages. Eyes search for images with Spot It! card games ($13.95), and Bananagrams spill their letter tiles across tables, beckoning players to construct words or the DNA sequence for their favorite eye color ($14.95). Families break from games to marvel at an artificial butterfly that flaps its wings inside a jar ($22.95). For baby supplies, hands wrap up infants in one-size-fits-all cloth diapers from Fuzzibuns ($22.95), which comfort miniature humans as they test their teeth around a Sophie the Giraffe teething toy ($22.95). Polly Wolly Doodle's crafty staff can gift-wrap all purchases for free at the customer's request or skillfully performed charades gesture.
The hobby pros at Gamingetc Tournament Center help visitors to shuffle through an arsenal of specialty cards, board games, and miniature figurines for games such as Yu-Gi-Oh, Pokémon, Dungeons & Dragons, and Magic: The Gathering. Wield newfound power with Pokémon items such as a Black & White Noble Victories booster pack, filled with 10 specialty pasteboards ($3.99 each), or single cards such as a Venusaur that, like an artificial candy cane, comes in near-mint condition ($6.99). A gray dragon Dungeons & Dragons mini ($12.99) helps its owner to wage mythical battles, and a Han Solo Star Wars mini ($2.20) depicts the film icon in Stormtrooper attire. Board gamers devise battle strategies with Warhammer Necrons Sets ($33) or Dominion Hinterlands ($40). Visitors can also upgrade their decks with a selection of Magic: The Gathering booster packs ($3.99). Once equipped with gaming gear, customers can return for weekly tournaments, during which players make friends, hone skills, and swap more cards than quintuplets at their own birthday party.