New Retailers Get Into the Holiday Toy Game

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NEW YORK (AP)

Barnes & Noble and other retailers have been quick to expand toy offerings this year. That's because toys have proven to be relatively strong sellers despite the uncertain economy.

Barnes & Noble Inc. said Thursday it is experimenting with 3,000-square-foot toy boutiques in five test stores in the Northeast.

The areas will offer toys like Legos, LeapFrog educational toys, Crayola andAmerican Girl crafts.

The bookseller, based in New York, also said it has expanded smaller toy departments in stores nationwide.

In the toy boutiques Barnes & Noble is testing, there will be a station to let kids play with Barnes & Noble's new Nook color electronic book reader and its children's books.

Barnes & Noble isn't the only store expanding is toy selection. Borders Group Inc., the nation's second largest bookseller, said in September that it's expanding its assortment of educational toys and games and will start to sell Build-A-Bear craft kits.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the nation's largest retailer, is increasing the amount of space it devotes to toys by about 15 percent
starting this month. In December, Walmart said it will nearly double the amount of space it has dedicated to toys compared with last year and offer about 4,000 toys.

Meanwhile, Toys R Us, the largest independent toy retailer, is opening 600 temporary stores in malls and shopping centers to sell toys during the holidays.

— Retail Writer Mae Anderson

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