In an effort to capitalise on its well-known brand name, the Walt Disney Company has been operating or licensing speciality stores since the mid-1980s throughout North America, Europe and Asia. These stores sell merchandise and collectibles ranging from such classic characters as Mickey Mouse and Cinderella to modern pop sensations Hannah Montana and the Jonas Brothers.
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The Walt Disney Company opened its first Disney Store in 1987 in a Glendale, California, shopping mall. Like the initial store, subsequent Disney Store locations have traditionally opened in enclosed malls where similar speciality stores exist, although some have taken root in open-air shopping centres. From the onset, Disney Stores have been known to sell merchandise--including toys and DVDs--related to the parent company, some of it exclusive.
Throughout the 1990s, Disney Store locations began popping up in malls and shopping centres throughout the United States. The company also expanded the store's presence into other countries, including Canada in North America; France, Italy, Portugal, Spain and the United Kingdom in Europe; and Hong Kong and Japan in Asia. The company also made an attempt to enter the Australian market, although those stores have since been shuttered.
In 2004, company executives decided to sell all Disney Store locations in the United States and Canada (with the lone exception of a Manhattan store) to Hoop Retail Stores, a subsidiary of a company known as The Children's Place. Prior to that, the handful of Disney Stores in Asia were sold to the Oriental Land Company in 2002. Mounting costs were cited as the reason for the divestiture.
Under management by Hoop Retail, several changes were implemented at Disney Store locations. The company attempted to expand the chain and opened new locations in subsequent years. Hoop executives also slashed the prices of some merchandise and opened outlet stores in select areas.
Return to Disney
Hoop Retail filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the United States in March 2008 and at the time sought to sell off its Disney Store locations. At the time of the bankruptcy filing, there were about 335 stores throughout North America. A deal was struck in May 2008 to sell 220 of those stores back to the founder--Walt Disney Company. The remaining 115 stores were liquidated and shut down.
Since its inception, Disney Store locations have offered a unique feature to consumers--the opportunity to purchase tickets to one of the company's theme parks. Stores throughout North America sell passes to the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida, and Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California. European stores offer passes to the Disneyland Resort Paris, and Asian locations have passes to the Tokyo Disney Resort.
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