Wednesday, December 17, 2008

KB Toys, depressing and lame to the end

Okay, I know that's a little harsh. Kay Bee was lots of fun when we were kids, and it was the site of the awesome Black Friday Star Wars Toy Grab that I chronicled below. When they got out the red ink, you could find some pretty good deals. I can recall a decent Bionicle purchase I made there as recently as 2006 (just looked the sets up on Bricklink to make sure of that date).

But depressing and lame were the sights that greeted me when I popped into the KB Toy Works store in Sherman Oaks tonight. It's a store I almost never check even though it's closer to my house than the nearest TRU, and a store in which I have never purchased a single thing (and, it looks like, never will).

And here's the problem right here. The SW figs were 30% off... but they're priced at 9.99. The huge discount, the "we're selling off everything because our company is DEAD discount," it still only nudging the price down to 7 bucks. That's pretty much the highest price most toy stores will charge for a SW fig, and in many places it's even cheaper.

This is, of course, no surprise; their prices on new, premium toys have always sucked. But what about the odd blast from the past, or finds from strange, unexpected toy categories? Some of the best toy collecting moments can happen then...

Well, not here. It's been a long time since Dr. Fate was news, and "Super Value" my big, black ass. It's been like that for a while; I can't remember the last time the archive racks at a KB served up anything I was even remotely interested in buying. Maybe back when the long-gone Swansea's KB had their Toybiz figs on the left side of that big center aisle, but that was ten years ago.

And as a final "Up Yours, Consumer" there was this. Signs for buying gift cards for a store that won't exist inside of a month or so. What the hell? I even heard an ad for these in between the piped-in songs, a cheerful woman pointing out that the gift cards had no extra fees and -- get this -- never expired. "Oh, but we didn't say the store wouldn't expire, sorry!"

I will miss KB, but mostly because I will miss any toy store that once existed and now doesn't anymore. TRU, Wal-mart and Target seem to be gobbling up everything, and I suppose there are ways that's a sad thing.

But really, for the last several years KB has rarely managed to be anything other than a waste of time for JPX and me (because we're too fanatical not to check), and as far back as I can remember it's been the store with the worst music ever.

Adios, KB Toys. May you return as something better.


JPX said...

Oh you're so right on all points, excellent post! I've maintained for years that KB jacks its prices up by 30%, which renders any "sale" moot because as you note all they've done is make their product the same price as everyone else. I recently went to one of the KB outlet stores and they had a sign that said, "Buy 3 of any product and get the 4th for free" What they fail to mention is that you will pay top dollar for those 3, which means that the 4th one is essentially paid for by the consumer who paid 30% more for the first 3. Sorry, terrible prose, but you get the idea. Under our management we could've made KB a successful venture. The other problem is that even when they had new product, it would be one case of said product and the good stuff would already be cherry-picked by the loser employees. At least at Toys R Us they get 20 cases in so even the rare stuff is more plentiful. I will miss KB because I believe every mall should have a toy store, not just those "educational" toy stores, but I won't miss KB at all.

That's so lame about the gift cards, how can they justify that???

Octopunk said...

I wondered if the cashiers would say anything to people buying them, but as noted I had no interaction with cashiers.

I forgot to mention -- not a Lego in the place. All cleaned out at 30% off.

Adam said...

Isn't KB where we scored some (rare) discounted Lego sets? Isn't that where that awesome castle set came from? I KNEW I should have bought 2 of those!!

Octopunk said...

Yes, that was a good score and yes, you should have gotten two. Nyah nyah! It's just that, over years and constant fruitless visits, their happy score went down and down and down. That purchase in 2006 that I mentioned might very well have been the last one I made, yet I kept poking my head in.