Toy stores have been struggling for several decades in the U.S. When Toys “R” Us went down, it felt like the final blow. Toys “R” Us has had a resurgence, yet it returned in a smaller footprint and it is still a shadow of the retail giant that had stores the size of a Walmart. These stores have found a way to survive by adapting and chasing the cultural zeitgeist. A new store may soon be flying onto the wish lists of kids and adults alike. Pop Mart is the newest sensation that has plans to reinvigorate the toy industry and they have brought their unique experience to the U.S.

Pop Mart is a Chinese company that got their start in 2010. The company was founded by entrepreneur Wang Ning when he was just 22 years old. Ning graduated college with an advertising degree and spent only a year at a digital media company before he decided to start his own business. Ning’s inspiration for the store came from large retail chains that sold trending only products and his first Pop Mart store was stocked with a wide array of options from home goods to everyday items. The breadth of items available became an issue as Ning had trouble with such a large supply chain and he could not prioritize the items customers wanted.

In 2014 Ning went back to the drawing board and decided to get rid of most of the products in the store, instead he would stock the entire store with their most popular item, toys. Wing wasn’t just going to sell toys in his store, he had a few other innovations up his sleeve. Wing began selling his toys in blind boxes where the product inside came as a surprise to customers. The practice has long been popular in Japan with gashapon vending machines, yet Ning was willing to bet on it being popular in a store format. In 2016 Ning began partnering with popular artists to develop toys exclusively for his stores. These custom toys caused the brand to surge in popularity and the company’s revenue went from $22 million to $73 million in only a year. The company has also secured licensing deals with companies like Walt Disney and Universal Studios to develop unique toys featuring their intellectual properties.

The company’s stores became destinations where customers could find unique items and enjoy the mystery of the blind box. They have expanded to encompass more than 100 stores in 21 countries and over 1,000 vending machines that offer mystery boxes. The company has also grown a strong online presence that reached U.S. customers long before they broke ground on their first store in the states. In just over 14 years Pop Mart has become the largest toy store in China and regularly outsells other international toy brands Lego and Disney.

All their success is now poised to capture the hearts of Americans young and old. The company just opened their latest location in Las Vegas and their eighth U.S. location overall. There are big expansion plans for America in hopes to revitalize the struggling toy industry. The company has already won over many American customers with their online store and now they will be able to offer a more engrossing experience. While their success in America is not guaranteed, Pop Mart is already larger than most toy companies of yesteryear could have ever dreamed of.