Excerpted from Tampa Bay Business Journal story.
When Toys R Us opened in Tampa’s Citrus Park suburb in 2016, Brian Bern took his son to shop there — and found a glimmer of hope for the future of brick-and-mortar real estate.
The store frequently held events, ranging from toy demonstrations to holiday crafts to Pokemon card trades. It was also just a fun place to visit, with rows of colorful candy bins, Lego sculptures and a Magic Mirror, in which your reflection becomes a cartoon character that mimics your movements.
Bern knows better than anyone the importance of giving consumers a reason beyond shopping to visit stores: He’s a senior director with Franklin Street in Tampa, specializing in retail properties.
“It was very experiential,” Bern said. “I was so impressed, and I felt like there was a future for Toys R Us. But you read into it and see the debt they were in — ugh.”