Critical Section


Toy Story

Wednesday,  12/10/03  09:05 AM

RIP, Zainy Brainy
        
This really pisses me off
.
           Really.

Once upon a time, there was this nice little toy store business called Zainy Brainy.  They specialized in educational toys, cool things smart parents wanted for their smart kids.  A cut above Imaginarium, and about ten cuts above Toys 'R Us.  They found a market niche, and they grew slowly but steadily.

And once upon a time, there was this nice big toy store business called F.A.O.Schwarz.  They'd been around forever, with a famous flagship store in New York on Fifth Avenue.  They specialized in unusual and exotic toys, cool things rich parents wanted for their rich kids.  Definitely several cuts above Toys 'R Us.  They found a market niche, and they grew slowly but steadily.

And then it happened that the founders of F.A.O.Schwarz became old, and sold their business to an investment corsortium.  The investors wanted to "leverage the brand".  They created a galactic "destination website" and broadened their offering.  They stopped specializing, and became a general purpose toy vendor, mixing it up with Toys 'R Us and Wal-Mart and KBToys and everyone.  They grew fast!  But they'd lost their differentiator...

And then it happened that the F.A.O.Schwarz investors decided the "education" niche was a good area for growth, and they purchased Zainy Brainy.  And they wanted to "extend the brand".  They created a galactic "destination website" and broadened their offering.  They stopped specializing, and became a general purpose toy vendor, mixing it up with Toys 'R Us and Wal-Mart and KBToys and everyone.  They grew fast!  But they'd lost their differentiator...

And then it happened that the stock market bubble burst, and terrorists attacked America, and the economy floundered.  And toy sales were off.  And F.A.O.Schwarz and Zainy Brainy had to mix it up with Toys 'R Us and Wal-Mart and KBToys and everyone, and they stopped growing.  And then they started shrinking.  And then, in the horrible fashion of bad big businesses everywhere, they began throwing furniture into the fire, closing Zainy Brainy stores in an effort to stave off the inevitable.

So now Zainy Brainy is dead, and F.A.O.Schwarz is dying.  And the smart parents with smart kids and the rich parents with rich kids have to shop at Toys 'R Us and Wal-Mart and KBToys.

And they are pissed.
And they blog about it.
>:(

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