The Saga of the Toy Wars

Cramer urges you to post your thoughts about it on our message board. The issue has far-reaching implications.
Publish date:

This Toys R Us (TOY) vs. eToys (ETYS) fight is at the crux of a debate that will only heat up between now and year-end: the worth of retail real estate.

This morning's



USA Today

articles only stoke the fire. The


talks about a rearguard action by mall owners against the Net. The

USA Today

piece talks about how eToys is so much more ready than Toys R Us for Christmas (at least that was the subtext).

Toys vs. eToys: Join the discussion on


message boards. I think this kind of issue is precisely what community boards are for. Stop by on ours and talk about it. Again, I think this is a burning issue: Are the e-tailers or the retailers going to win?

Why is it so important? Because this commercial real estate backlash shows that the smart money, the mall operators, know something big is afoot. Think about it. Last week on our

TV show, we learned that


(WSM) - Get Report

has a small Web operation. It has only been around for one month. It is obviously not important to Williams-Sonoma's bottom line, or at least not nearly as important as the catalog business.

Yet, if I take this story at face value, the mall operators, who never gave a darn about catalog sales -- even though they don't take place at the mall -- live in fear of the much better shopping experience from the Web.

What this whole shebang might be saying is that those leases, those expensive mall leases, which are so the backbone of retail, might turn out to be the Achilles' heel. Maybe the leases are going to keep these retailers from transforming themselves as they should and make them second-raters vs. their e-counterparts.

I know we scratched the surface in that

toy story yesterday. I have since heard massive feedback about the high quality of Toys R Us' site and the low quality of its stores -- beyond even what I thought.

If you agree with me, check out our

board. Let's weigh in on our experiences on the eve of this, the biggest shopping weekend of the year.

James J. Cramer is manager of a hedge fund and co-founder of At time of publication, his fund had no positions in any stocks mentioned. His fund often buys and sells securities that are the subject of his columns, both before and after the columns are published, and the positions that his fund takes may change at any time. Under no circumstances does the information in this column represent a recommendation to buy or sell stocks. Cramer's writings provide insights into the dynamics of money management and are not a solicitation for transactions. While he cannot provide investment advice or recommendations, he invites you to comment on his column at