Make us your home page
Instagram

Toys 'R' Us rolls out incentives to draw shoppers early

Halloween is still weeks away, but Toys "R'' Us wants shoppers to start thinking about Christmas.

The major toy retailer is giving rewards members 10 percent back on store and online purchases, up to $100, through Oct. 31. Customers will receive a gift card for their earned amount via email in mid November.

The incentives are part of the store's efforts to get customers to shop early — and often — and mirror what many retailers are doing to lengthen the shopping season for people on tight budgets. Last week, Walmart unveiled its top holiday toys list.

During a holiday preview event, Toys "R" Us chief merchandising officer Richard Barry said the chain is working to offset "significant headwinds'' this year by focusing on top-selling categories. It's devoting more space to educational toys, tablets and construction toys (Legos and Mega Bloks) and reducing areas for electronics, video games and other products that didn't do so great last year.

Based on the huge growth of tablet sales and accessories, stores are adding mini shops with 25 different tablets parents and kids can test out. Stores will have an aisle dedicated to telescopes, language programs and other new learning products, and many stores will have their own Lego shops. Anything bought now can be returned through Jan. 25 under a new extended return policy.

The changes come as the toy store tries to rebound from a drop in sales last year. Many were based on a recent store survey that found people like to shop early to ensure they get what their kids want without the panic and chaos of last-minute shopping.

Makes sense, I suppose, so long as you don't mind seeing holiday ads in September. To get us in the spirit, Thursday through Saturday, Toys "R'' Us is offering 20 percent off most items.

Tampa Bay's first West Elm home furnishings store opens at 10 a.m. Thursday at Hyde Park Village in Tampa.

To celebrate, West Elm is giving away cool-looking "Hello Tampa'' tote bags by Lakeland-based Vicarious Clothing to the first 300 shoppers who spend $50. Customers can also register for a chance to win a $2,000 gift card.

Located on the Village Circle in the former Williams-Sonoma spot, the 8,792-square-foot store has a diverse mix of furniture, home decor, gifts and artwork, much of it inspired by nature. A lot of people, myself included, know West Elm through its catalog, which is how the retailer got its start in 2002. It's part of the same company that owns Williams-Sonoma and Pottery Barn.

Hyde Park Village seems to be on a slight upswing, with the addition of West Elm and several newish tenants in the Snow Circle loop (Albisia's Jewelry, Don Me Now, High Cotton Living, Navy, White Magnolia Bridal Collection). Word on the street is that the shopping center has been sold. Management officials haven't responded to inquiries.

The village went on the market in May.

The U.S. Postal Service has opened a store on eBay.

While history buffs might like bidding on a 1971 stamp proof of the Antarctic Treaty, anyone looking to mail their electric bill should beware. A book of 20 stamps costs $9.20, plus $1.25 for shipping and handling, the same as the Postal Service's website.

Call me cheap, but I refuse to pay a fee to buy stamps and never, ever buy them at retailers that charge more than face value. Instead, I order stamps through the mail through an order form available at post offices. My carrier delivers them for free.

Susan Thurston can be reached at sthurston@tampabay.com, (813) 225-3110 or @susan_thurston on Twitter.

Toys 'R' Us rolls out incentives to draw shoppers early 09/16/13 [Last modified: Tuesday, September 17, 2013 7:43am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. What ever happened to the Zika epidemic?

    Health

    Remember Zika?

    The last time Gov. Rick Scott warned Floridians about the potential threat of the mosquito-borne virus was in July, when he urged residents to still be vigilant against bug bites and standing water. At the time, doctors and researchers were bracing for what was supposed to be another active summer …

    Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, responsible for transmitting Zika, sit in a petri dish at the Fiocruz Institute in Recife, Brazil. Cases of the virus are down dramatically this year in Florida, the result of awareness efforts, experts say. But the public, they add, should not let its guard down. [Associated Press]
  2. Pinellas licensing board needs cash. Will the county give it any?

    Local Government

    LARGO –– The grand jury that said Pinellas County should not take over the troubled construction licensing board also said the county should bail out the agency before it goes broke in 2018.

    Pinellas County Commission chair Janet Long isn't keen on the idea of the county loaning money to keep the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board afloat. The county has no say over the independent agency, which could run out of funding in 2018. [SCOTT KEELER   |   Times]
  3. Is the Bundt cake back? How retro baked goods are becoming trendy again

    Cooking

    Once there were grunts and slumps, buckles and brown betties. Oh, and pandowdies and sonkers. In the olden days, people routinely made angel food cakes, tomato soup cakes and hummingbird cakes. These were not Duncan Hines mixes, but rather confections made from scratch following yellowed and stained recipes in your …

    Nothing Bundt Cakes in Tampa offers a variety of options, from tiny “bundtinis” and 10-inch cakes that serve 18 to 20 people. Core flavors include lemon, marble, red velvet and chocolate-chocolate chip, with featured flavors like confetti.
  4. Pinellas construction licensing board needs to be fixed. But how?

    Local Government

    LARGO –– Everyone agrees that the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board needs to be reformed. But no one agrees on how to do it.

    Rodney Fischer, former executive director of the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board Rodney, at a February meeting. His management of the agency was criticized by an inspector general's report. [SCOTT KEELER   |   Times]

  5. New owners take over downtown St. Petersburg's Hofbräuhaus

    Retail

    ST. PETERSBURG — The downtown German beer-hall Hofbräuhaus St. Petersburg has been bought by a partnership led by former Checkers Drive-In Restaurants president Keith Sirois.

    The Hofbrauhaus, St. Petersburg, located in the former historic Tramor Cafeteria, St. Petersburg, is under new ownership.
[SCOTT KEELER  |  TIMES]