Disney Stores get face lift for Earth Day

April 22, 2009

 The Walt Disney Co rolled out a new look and mission for its North American Disney Stores in an Earth Day celebration designed to reposition the chain it bought back from The Children’s Place last year as a “light education” destination, Jim Fielding, president of Disney Stores Worldwide said.

 Disney reacquired the 225 stores after Children’s Place fell behind on a pledge to invest millions to fix up the outlets. Disney had a tough time making the stores profitable before it handed them off to Children’s Place, but Fielding said he just completed the chain’s five-year plan and is “optimistic” about its prospects, even in one of the worst retail environments in living memory.

In addition to a new store design to be rolled out over the next year, the chain is looking for new digs in cities where bankruptcies and foreclosures have reshaped communities and the commercial real estate surrounding them.  “We are still repositioning that portfolio to make sure we are in the right malls, in the right cities, and the right states,” Fielding said.

As its first global initiative, Disney Stores launched a global Earth Day effort organized around an offering of recycled products, conservation-themed games for kids, and a giveway of reusable bottles that had families lining up at the stores on Wednesday.  The global celebration also includes a tree planting initiative linked to sales of recyclable shopping bags, and Disney is working on signing up U.S. partners for more charitable endeavors like it frequently sponsors at its 106 European stores, Fielding said.

The worldwide do-gooderism is aimed at reminding kids — most of whom come to the stores for the latest Princess dress, Buzz Lightyear or stuffed Mickey — that “they are part of a bigger world and to be conscious of what’s going on around them,” Fielding said.

Yay, Earth Day … Now hand over the Pooh Bear before my kid starts screaming.

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