Mastermind Toys to stop accepting gift cards after Dec. 24 as new company acquires stores

Mastermind Toys to stop accepting gift cards after Dec. 24 as new company acquires stores
Photo: Mohammad Mehdi/Google

Shoppers at Mastermind Toys won’t be able to use gift cards after Christmas Eve, as the company comes under new ownership after filing for creditor protection.

Mastermind has a store in Langford, and spokesperson David Ryan says the company will be accepting gift cards there, and at its 65 other Canadian locations, up to Dec. 24.

“This is being communicated to customers in-store,” he told CHEK News.

A sign on the Langford store’s door reads, “Gift Cards will be accepted through the end of business on December 24th, 2023. After December 24th, 2023, pursuant to the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act (CCAA) court process, Mastermind Toys will no longer be able to accept Gift Cards.

“We are truly sorry for the inconvenience.”

The gift card change comes as Unity Acquisitions Inc., the company behind the Joe Fresh brand, entered into a purchase agreement with Mastermind, stated a Dec. 4 release.

The court has since granted its approval for the transaction, which is expected to close in January 2024, according to Ryan. After Dec. 24, gift cards will not be accepted for the remainder of the CCAA process, and it’s unclear if they’ll be redeemable after that.

It “remains TBD, unfortunately,” said Ryan.

Mastermind faced with ‘a range of challenges’

Mastermind is “the largest independent specialty toy and children’s book retailer in Canada,” reads the release. The company, which operates coast-to-coast, has been around for 39 years and was founded by brothers Andy and Jon Levy.

It obtained an initial order on Nov. 23 for creditor protection under the CCAA, following what it’s calling “a range of challenges,” including increasing competition, disruptions from the COVID-19 pandemic and “a deteriorating macro-economic environment.”

“Despite implementing a series of operational improvements and cost reductions…the challenges facing the Company’s business have become too significant to overcome,” it said.

The CCAA “is a federal law allowing insolvent corporations that owe their creditors in excess of $5 million to restructure their business and financial affairs,” according to the Government of Canada on its website.

Eighteen Mastermind stores in Canada are also closing.

However, the store in Langford is staying open, with the Prince George, B.C., location the only one in the province currently in court-approved liquidation. The full store closure list is here.

Mastermind is also offering an extended holiday return and exchange policy for online and in-store purchases, but this doesn’t apply at the stores that are closing.

Ethan MorneauEthan Morneau

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