New Mall of America Toy Store Bets on Experience
A sprawling 11,000-square-foot toy store designed to encourage discovery and imaginative play may sound like a pre-Covid relic, but the Ukrainian group behind the new Hey!Joy at Mall of America prefers to think of it as optimism for the future of brick and mortar shopping.
“The pandemic has been tough for all of us, but we believe a better time is glimmering on the horizon,” said Yuliya Chomenko, the toy seller’s marketing director. “Children and adults, we are all ready for a bit of joy in our lives—now more than ever.”
Chomenko said her family has nearly two decades of experience in sourcing and selling toys in Central Europe and Asia, starting with a small corner shop and growing to a network of 65 stores. For two years, the group has been planning its U.S. launch with MOA as the obvious target. “It’s the busiest mall in America and a vibrant place of fun and food,” Chomenko said. “Hey!Joy will fit right in.”
The store stocks popular American brands including LEGO, Mattel, Hasbro, Haba, and Melissa & Doug as well as European lines including Yummyjoy, Artwille, and Wise Elk. But beyond retail, Hey!Joy strives to deliver entertainment, its locally-based CEO Vadim Chomenko said. Divided into several zones, the shop includes a viewing area for young guests to watch cartoons “in a comfortable and socially distant environment.” The “Hero Factory” offers kids a chance to transform into superheroes, animals and other characters. The YummyJoy Sweet Factory features 140 types of Belgian chocolate, handmade caramels, marshmallows and gummy bears.
Owners are working on a Hey!Joy app that will recommend gifts and deliver special offers to users. Eventually, Hey!Joy may add e-commerce, Yuliya Chomenko said. But for now, even during a pandemic that has currently shuttered MOA’s entertainment attractions, the focus is on store experience. “Nothing can compare to the excitement of coming into a store full of fantastic toys ready to be explored. Visiting a toy shop together, playing and picking out gifts is the stuff family memories are made of and that’s not going anywhere.”
Hey!Joy is now open on Mall of America’s first floor, east side.