Toys 'R' Us CEO on Hiring Workers for Holidays

This is a rush transcript from "Your World With Neil Cavuto," October 2, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: More Americans joining the unemployment lines last week, first-time filers jumping by 17,000, but Toys 'R' Us is hiring, big- time, 35,000 workers just for holiday help. That is about in line with past years, but it comes at a time when customers are holding back on spending, we're told — apparently, not there. Jerry Storch, Toys 'R' Us CEO, joining me right now.

Jerry, good to see you.

JERRY STORCH, CEO, TOYS 'R' US: Great to see you.

CAVUTO: That is a lot of folks to hire in what still seems to be a still dicey environment. Why are you doing it? STORCH: Well, we continue to grow our business. We will be opening up 350 holiday express stores this fall in shopping centers around the country.


CAVUTO: Where will they be, in abandoned stores, or what is the deal with that?

STORCH: Well, there is a lot of empty real estate right now.

CAVUTO: Right.

STORCH: But we wanted the best sites. So, we have been working with developers to make sure we were in the best malls in the country. Some of them are in urban sites. For example, we have a store open already in Manhattan Mall down the street in New York here. We're also going to be opening one up in Harlem for the first time. So...


CAVUTO: Are these temporary?

STORCH: They are temporary stores.


STORCH: They will open — some of them are open already. Most of them will open in October. And they will stay open through January. And, then, of course, if customers have returns or other considerations, they can come back to any Toys 'R' Us or Babies 'R' Us store in the country.

CAVUTO: What if you discovered that people prefer shopping in these smaller venues than your huge stores? Then what?

STORCH: Well, I'm not worried about that. They're different.

We believe it is a different purchase occasion. There have always been toy stores in the malls, but in these economic times, some of those companies are not in business anymore.

CAVUTO: Gotcha.

STORCH: So, our research shows that customers prefer to stop at Toys 'R' Us. We always say we are the toy authority. We know more about toys than anyone.

Customers say the same thing. They want to shop with Toys 'R' Us. Sometimes, it is a little out of the way to go to the separate store just to do your toy shopping. So when they are in the mall, they're able to stop by Toys 'R' Us holiday express.

CAVUTO: So, they would actually stumble upon you...


STORCH: In most cases, they will just stumble upon you.


CAVUTO: How is business doing, by the way?

STORCH: You know, the toy business is pretty good.

We had among the strongest same-store sales performance last December. We were actually up in December of last year.

CAVUTO: So, the size of the check has not changed? Or people like are getting their kids presents, but just cheaper ones? Or...

STORCH: We have not seen any difference in the size of the check.

What we have seen is that, in good times and bad, the last thing parents cut back on is the holiday presents for their kid, the birthday present for their child. Parents are cutting back on luxuries for themselves. They're cutting back — cutting back on capital goods, like automobiles or houses. But we don't sell real cars. We sell toy cars. And they don't need financing.

We sell houses, too, little Barbie houses. They don't need financing either.

CAVUTO: My theory is, with kids, their memory is so short-term, I'm half-tempted to re-wrap what I got them last year that they have put away. And they will be none the wiser.

STORCH: No, that won't work...

CAVUTO: It won't work?

STORCH: ... because, as they age, they have different needs.

And one of things we always stress, people say, is there one hot toy? Sometimes, it seems like there is. We have a little hamster right now called Zhu Zhu that we can't keep on the shelves. People are lined up outside the store when it opens to get the little pet hamsters when they come in

But, really, it depends upon the age of the child. Different toys are appropriate.

CAVUTO: But there is no like Cabbage Patch doll or a new video game sensation? What is it?

STORCH: This hamster is. I will tell you, Zhu Zhu is the hottest thing I have seen in the last three or four years.

CAVUTO: So, the hot — this is a terrible indictment on the economy that the hottest thing going in a hamster.


STORCH: Well, he is cute.

CAVUTO: He is cute.

STORCH: And he's a lot of fun. And we sell affordable fun.

CAVUTO: Does he believe in health care reform?


STORCH: He doesn't need it. You just change the batteries and he does just fine.


CAVUTO: All right. Jerry Storch, thank you very, very much, the big cheese at Toys 'R' Us. A lot of things happening there. So, stumble into a mall in there and you will find him. All right.

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