As Kotaku reported last week, retail giant GameStop has been increasingly stocking its retail stores with weird, random junk instead of, well, video games. Dissatisfied GameStop employees have been grousing online about the massive amounts of toys the warehouses are sending. And as it turns out, customers aren’t even buying them.
According to an r/GameStop thread discussing the phenomenon, one of the biggest offenders are “Squishmallows,” animal-shaped pillows that double as children’s plush toys. “I now have 25 of the same squish that doesn’t sell,” wrote the original poster, who said they worked at one of the slowest stores in their city. “We’ve had one of the same squish for months that has never sold. Someone please ask if the warehouse workers are okay.” Since posting the thread yesterday, the employee’s Squishmallow count has increased to 43. Some replies from other workers claimed that their locations did well with Squishmallows, but other commenters said they struggled with how much shelf space they consumed.
However, it wasn’t just GameStop’s strange obsession with Squishmallows that caused the staff headaches. If even one customer bought a toy item, then the warehouse would send more to that store.
“Some random kid bought one backpack clip of Jurassic World and now [the] warehouse thinks I’m the major prime residency of receiving everything Jurassic World related,” complained one employee. “It does not sell at all and we continue to get distros for it.” Another frustrated staffer received 66 Sonic the Hedgehog backpack clips because one man had bought five last week.
“We get what are called blind bags in almost every shipment,” one employee told Kotaku. “At one point we dedicated four different places in the store to them. And our back room was completely full of them. Outside of video games they’re probably the single most common item in the store.”
That particular store managed to sell these veritable GameStop warehouse loot boxes by putting them on clearance, but stores are still getting too many blind bags relative to the space they have to actually display merchandise. According to another employee who spoke to Kotaku, the overstock is the main reason why their store was constantly having clearance sales: Otherwise they couldn’t get rid of all the Power Rangers toys, DC and Marvel Legends action figures, and plushies.
Sometimes, GameStop even gets unwanted video games. The funniest one reported in the original Reddit thread is Babylon’s Fall, a game that performed so poorly that Square Enix plans to shut down its servers before it’s even been out for a year. Some GameStop locations are giving Babylon’s Fall away for free. Apparently, this distributor managed to miss the memo.
One customer chimed in on Reddit to express confusion as to why GameStop’s retail stores were filled with unsellable toys. Apparently, came the reply, they do help the retail stores stay afloat. “Because games have a niche market. They’re bad gifts, a lot of people prefer digital, and GameStop doesn’t do retro so it’s a small market of games,” a current employee replied. “T-shirts, collectibles, etc. all make great money, they’re easy gifts and can be akin to the candy next to the cashier, impulse buy.”
If you find yourself in urgent need of a shower beer can holder, squishy stress balls, Pampers diapers, toddler walkers, or a car air conditioner vent clip that holds chicken nugget dipping sauce, well, you know where to go.
Additional reporting by Ethan Gach.