Toys ‘R’ Us supporters need to raise $1 billion by Memorial Day to save a chunk of the brand’s assets
They’re not done playing yet.
After Toys “R” Us announced this month that it plans to sell or shutter all of its 735 U.S. stores after filing for bankruptcy, supporters of #SaveToysRUs — a viral movement to rescue the beloved brand — are rallying on a GoFundMe page. The goal is to raise $1 billion to keep 400 Toys “R” Us stores up and running.
“Toys ‘R’ Us is on the verge of permanently closing its doors,” the official GoFundMe campaign reads. “It feels like the end of an era, with sad headlines spreading across news and social media, BUT there is still time to save this American icon—and you can help.”
The effort is being led by Isaac Larian, the billionaire CEO of MGA Entertainment, a toy company that has produced such hits as the Bratz dolls. (Toys “R” Us reportedly owes MGA Entertainment $21.3 million, per a September bankruptcy filing.) He has put $100 million of his own money into the rescue effort, along with another $100 million from undisclosed investors.
Larian believes that as many as 130,000 jobs are at risk (taking into account the impact of the mass Toys “R” Us closings on suppliers and logistics operators) — but his hope is that, if this fundraiser works, he could save about 43,000 of those positions.
“There is no toy business without Toys ‘R’ Us,” Larian told the Washington Post. “It’s a big deal and I’m going to try to salvage as much of it as possible.”
More than 1,600 supporters have chipped in another $49,000 as of Tuesday morning. If the campaign fails to hit the $1 billion mark, the donations will be returned to individual contributors.
Unlike many other GoFundMe campaigns, donating to the #SaveToysRUs campaign isn’t philanthropic, which means it’s not tax-deductible. It also doesn’t entitle donors to lay claim to equity on the brand, should the endeavor work. “(I)t simply means you want future generations to be Toys ‘R’ Us kids,” the campaign says.
The campaign is also handing out pledge rewards, depending on how generous the donations are. Kicking in between $5 and $49 earns a #SaveToysRUs bumper sticker, while laying out between $10,000 to $24,999 nets perks such as an invite to a local Toys “R” Us reopening block party if the fundraiser is successful. The donors able to shell out $10 million score a trip to a southern California theme park, naming rights to a store of the donor’s choosing and a lifetime supply of toys from the company.
In the past, crowdfunding has successfully been used to keep some struggling businesses afloat, although none have been on the scale of the Toys “R” Us meltdown. Baltimore bar The Idle Hour was facing mounting $40,000 repair costs for a structural issue that shut the bar down in 2015. So the bar used crowdfunding platform IndieGogo to raise nearly $49,000 to cover the repairs and keep the doors open. And in 2006, the New Mexico Tea Company used its internal mailing list to ask more than 4,000 customers for financial aid to keep running. After asking for just $5,000, they brought in $10,000 in donations within a week.
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