In case you haven't heard, there's big trouble in Toyland, and a chunk of Ohio lies within its mythical borders.
Hundreds of workers mold big plastic toys and kids play equipment at Little Tikes Co. in Hudson and at Step2 Discovery LLC and Simplay3 in Streetsboro — and they all just lost a major sales channel.
It's too soon to say what the effect will be, but those companies are all dealing with the loss of Toys R Us and its $11 billion in annual overall toy sales. The iconic retailer announced in March it is closing all 800 of its stores around the country this year.
It was such a blow to the plastic toymakers that Isaac Larian, the founder of and CEO of Little Tikes' parent, MGA Entertainment, attempted to save at least part of the chain by purchasing several hundred of the stores. Unable to reach a deal with Toys R Us' creditors, the California businessman abandoned that effort on May 18.
"We have officially withdrawn our bid to save Toys R Us, as we were unable to reach a fair agreement with the current lenders, who I believe did not provide a fair valuation of the remaining U.S. assets," Larian said in an email to Crain's. "Saving the retailer was always going to be a challenge but one that I was up for — both personally and professionally. As the maker of the No. 1 selling toy in the country, L.O.L. Surprise, Toys R Us has played a large part in growing our business and their absence will be felt by the toy industry at large. Moreover, I am most disheartened that the legacy of the retailer will be lost for future generations."
But that was all MGA Entertainment, maker of the popular L.O.L. Surprise dolls, which are both made from plastic and packaged in film and rigid containers as part of their sales gimmick, would say, and questions about its future and its plans for northeast Ohio went unanswered.