Monday, November 12, 2007

K-B Toys 2-B Closing 156 Stores

Is the end almost near for K-B Toys?

According to a disheartening news story unearthed by Ames Fan Club forums member Daniel Fife, the Pittsfield, Mass.-based toys-and-games chain is clamping down yet again, closing 156 stores nationwide and liquidating its "Toy Works" name face which began late last week on November 8, 2007.

Pictured: TORRINGTON, CONNECTICUT at Torrington Plaza earlier this year

In Connecticut, the chain recently quietly shuttered all remaining strip plaza stores in TORRINGTON (Torrington Plaza), NEWTOWN, STRATFORD (The Dock), PLAINVILLE (Connecticut Commons) with ENFIELD (at Enfield Square/Mall) and VERNON (at Tri-City Plaza) soon to follow in a few weeks. Enfield will be the only announced mall-side closure while the others formerly located in strip plazas will close seeing the chain's focus of keeping stores within traditional indoor malls, where they are most likely successful.

The Caldor Rainbow has little doubt more stores won't soon follow shortly after the Christmas season 2007, as most of the survivors appear to retain by their indoor mall-strengthened associations as opposed to the move to liquidate existing, underperforming strip plaza stores in Connecticut.

Stores that will be sticking around for now are DANBURY (at Danbury Fair Mall) and mostly new(er) locations in MERIDEN (at Westfield Meriden/Mall) MILFORD (at Westfield Connecticut Post/Mall), TRUMBULL (at Westfield Trumbull/Mall), WATERBURY (at Brass Mill Center/Mall), WESTBROOK (an Outlet store at Westbrook/Tanger Outlet). You can see the full-list here complete with upcoming Black Friday hours.

The Milford store recently had its store relocated and redesigned in accordance with a new store model at the Westfield Connecticut Post Mall in 2006, despite the company's woes.

When I was a kid and shortly after, most of the stores were known as Kay Bee Toy Works, Kay Bee Toys, KB Toys and KB Toy Works. Today, the chain is somewhat muddled in what name they choose to present themselves until now, widely known as KB Toys following the most recent closure.

When the veteran toys-and-games merchant and rival to mega-retailer Toys "R" Us ceased the selling of video games around 2003, something was up.


LEOMINSTER, MASS. inside THE MALL AT WHITNEY FIELD lives with another wacky, unusual logo.

PATCHOGUE, NEW YORK lives with unusual block-lettering logo

NEWBURGH, NEW YORK at Newburgh Mall lives with old-skool logo

JOHNSON CITY, NEW YORK lives inside Oakdale Mall, because it's a Southern-tier tradition!

If you were (or had) kid(s) growing up in the 1980s and (mostly) 1990s, you knew that apart Toys "R" Us, KB Toys was a junior alternative but no less a joyous toy store with immense selection but often steeper prices than big box Toys "R" Us. Competition has sought to do in K-B Toys, whose lost much market share to many of it's discount-oriented competitors. Then, when the chain liquidated its remaining, withering selection of competitively priced video games into more or unused space for toys.

In 2004, K-B Toys filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, closing 365 stores nationwide.

Other Connecticut stores that have disappeared in lieu of Chapter 11 were BRISTOL, FARMINGTON /WEST HARTFORD (at Westfarms Mall), NEWINGTON, NAUGATUCK, DANBURY (Berkshire Shopping Center) and SOUTHINGTON, STAMFORD (at Stamford Town Center).

A years bygone BRISTOL, CONNECTICUT store (still vacant) still has its "TOY WORKS" logo displayed on the road pylon on Route 6's Bristol Commons

The cancer that the company was suffering was bestowed upon Chapter 11. Within the next year, more stores would prove it by closing due to not only competitive pressures and exorbitant leases but the same problems Toys "R" Us have faced per the millennial shift: the inability to reinvent or adapt to a changing industry of a rising electronic age.

We saw the chain change dramatically, for the worse, when the electronic age took flight and around the same years Toys "R" Us lost its clout to kids other diversions and the big box revolution of Wal-Mart and Target, where prices were offered lower. Pile on recent outbreaks of quality control issues in products sold at the various chains including K-B Toys following many lead-paint/Made In China products have caused for a further damning for the company's bottom line.

A poisonous equation, and one that has almost sent K-B Toys into cancerous defeat.

There are no plans for K-B Toys to close any more stores beyond ones announced on their website. Head over to the K-B Toys site to get a list of stores still alive, closing or dead (no longer listed).

The Caldor Rainbow hopes to secure pictures of closed locations in the near future.

UPDATE: November 2008; K-B Toys is finished.

Title image KEENE, NEW HAMPSHIRE (still open, but liquidating/closing), taken November 10, 2007.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the info. I just checked the store locater and checked my state of Louisiana. They list store closing sale next to three locations: Mall Of Louisiana in Baton Rouge, Mall St. Vincent in Shreveport and Pierre Bossier Mall in Bossier City. A sad day for grown up toy store lovers like me. If this is the end for KB toys, that pretty much means no more toy stores in the malls, kind of the way music, video and bookstores have been going for years now.

Anonymous said...

Wow, jarring but not surprising.

BTW the KB Toy Works (assuming now closed) in Torrington,CT was originally as I remember from the early 1990s-2003,2004,2005? was a The Toy Works store, that sign which was wicked old stayed on the store even after KB bought them out, until at least 2003,2004, or 2005 the sign remained the same, hence the reason for that huge rectangular labelscar on the front of the store.

The sign was cool too, it had "The Toy Works" in that san serif font in red with two elf toy workers w. hammers (facing opposite directions) and two or three toy soldiers on each side. This was surrounded all by a blue border.

If I remember correctly the letters always were missing the front parts that cover the the interior lights, so you would always see the intricate tubes of lights inside whenever it lit up, sorta poor yeah, but it was neat to see none the less.

I always thought KB Toys was kinda small and limited in size and selection compared to Toys R Us, never the less the Torrington store will be missed.

sad to see it go.

Anonymous said...

I just remembered there used to be a small KB Toy Works further down the road from the former Winsted Ames, it was housed in a small long peaked roofed building, which used to be white, but now is red.

It's now currently an antiques shop.

I've found a satellite image of it from 1991, it's really was pathetic how they literally placed it (especially a toy store) in the middle of nowhere.

It's between Old Farm Road and New Hartford Road.

I also remember colored poka dots was a Kay Bee toys signature design.

Nicholas M. DiMaio said...

I first stopped into the Torrington store back in 2005 remembering that it was one of the larger Toy Works stores I had been to.

Kay Bee and Toy Works was always well known for being the junior Toys "R" Us, and obviously, more successful than that of Child World, which was *the* mall equivalent to Toys R Us in the 1970s before they, being the mammoth Toys R Us expanded near malls in the early 80's.

I'll be surprised if we see KB Toys around in, I'll say (being generous), the next three years. I hardly enjoy the rather skimpy, cheap selection of toys these days, not nearly as amazing as when I was growing up in the 90's. All the hype is in electronics these days, unfortunately.

Anonymous said...

The Newtown mean the closed the one at the SAND HILL PLAZA next to Super Stop & Shop!?

GeorgeL said...

Newtown is not closed and I really hope it stay alive. That store has to be one of the best run toy stores i've seen in all my 32 years of toy shopping. I grew up in the Milford TRU, Childworld, KB and the Trumbull Mall KB.

I've been taking my 3 children to the Newtown Toy Works every few weekends since my daughter who is now 6 was born. They really like running around the store and playing on a Sunday morning. It would really be sad if they closed that store. They seem to do good business and they have employees who really care which is VERY RARE nowadays. The managers are older fellas which explain why its run properly. Has anyone visited the Trumbull mall KB over the past 7 years? Its disgusting and the people who work there should have never gotten the job. One of them deals toys to toy scalpers right out of the back room. True scumbags.

Nicholas M. DiMaio said...

The Newtown store is absent from the store locator which could only mean one thing: it didn't make the cut and will be closing as soon as it fully liquidates, which could be a few weeks to a few months. It will not be participating in the Black Friday deals either.

And George, you grew up in Milford? Do you recall when the Toys R Us was remodeled? Also, do you recall shopping at the East Haven Toys R Us?

GeorgeL said...


I grew up in monroe, I was a regular in the milford toys r us, childworld and local kaybees, especially the trumbull kb when it was next to graf wadmans record store. Remember Play Things after they expanded that side of the mall? What kick ass times.

Yes, I also used to go to the east haven toys r us right on 95. It was just recently torn down. I still enjoyed passing it every now and then seeing those old school rainbow stripes. I also went to the Child World in Hamden many times. My aunt and uncle took me and my cousin to Jimmys resturant and we used to go buy star wars figs at Child World that was in the ghost car graveyard parking lot. LOL.

I think TRU in Milford was remodeled in 97 if I'm not mistaken. Give or take a year. What a terrible move too. It hasnt been the same since. I cannot stand how its set up nowadays. I want to visit that upstate NY and Mass TRU. With 4 kids I dont think I can justify a weekend roadtrip to check out an old school toystore though. The wife wont go for that one.

Does anyone know if any older photos exsist of the inside of the trumbull mall? Does the building management have such a thing? I would think they would have snapshots of all the storefronts over the years. Does something like that exsist?

where are you from by the way?

Anonymous said...

that brand new KB Toys with the stripes definately reminds me of the old Toys R Us rainbow stripes.

Anonymous said...

Question: when did it become Kay-Bee Toys instead of Kay-Bee Toy & Hobby?

Nicholas M. DiMaio said...

"Question: when did it become Kay-Bee Toys instead of Kay-Bee Toy & Hobby?"

I'd have to do some more solid research but I'm going to trigger fire and say mid-or-late 1990s is when I started noticing. Also note that stores named "Kay-Bee Toy & Hobby" in the 1970s and 80s (most notably) were mall-side all were that way up until the later 90's.

Stores located in plazas were called "The Toy Works," under the banner of the Kay Bee Toys banner.

The name/image change includes the ceasing of "Kay-Bee Toys" which became the abridged "K-B Toys." That included plaza-side stores/K-B Toys as well.

To clear up any confusion, the company is hiding no more and has now become merged as one, uniform: K-B Toys.

TenPoundHammer said...

Diamond Run Mall in Rutland, VT used to have a K•B just like the Whitney Field one.

Anonymous said...

It's ashamed to see Toy Works going, as they were usually (at least in recent years) better run than the mall KBs. I have to agree the the Trumbull mall KB is horrendous these days. I grew up up with the Trumbull and Milford malls and even remember going to the grand opening of the Milford TRU. I remember they had people dressed up in costumes as various toy characters and two dressed as a knight and some kind of fire monster were standing by the stockroom door near the rear of the boys aisles arguing(just what you want kids to see). In the Trumbull mall in the Lord and Taylor wing near where Sam Goody used to be there's a conference room with black and white pictures of the mall from years past including a huge one of E.G. Korvettes. Sadly it's not open to the public. Anyone remember the Olde New England mall they used to have downstairs in Trumbull?

Anonymous said...

The KB in the Connecticut Post actually shuttered, and another toy store went in its place. KB just reopened in its identical location. It is as if that store never left. It had a different logo when it first opened, and it was the first store I recall going by "KB" instead of Kay Bee. Actually, some stores such as the Trumbull store had been renovated to be like the Leominster store and still said Kay Bee.

Orochimaru said...

I remember around Xmas time, I was going to the movies with a friend. Well, let's just say that the store in Plainville was closing, I was sad. But I still wonder if Meriden Square still has theirs.

Anonymous said...


The Torrington Toy Works store is closed, another Torrington landmark has been shuttered forever.

The sign has also been removed,the buildings still there but it has a bare storefront, it looks very empty now,sad.

Anonymous said...

Wow, Patchogue takes me back. I grew up in that store, buying Ninja Turtles. There was a great local toystore called Play World down the road (I miss it). Since they were local, but HUUUUUUGE, they NEVER got rid of anything, including old Star Wars toys they had in the late 80's early 90's in the clearance section.

I'll have to look at the one up the road from me here (in Ridgewood, Queens NY) and check the logo.

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