Three vacant Toys R Us stores in central Ohio were among those sold at auction last week.
Scandinavian Designs paid $36 million for 15 Toys R Us locations, including one in Columbus at 4285 Groves Road, according to federal bankruptcy court filings.
Another central Ohio Toys R Us property was claimed in the auction by OBO Ventures, which is part of Ollie's Bargain Outlet, a closeout retailer that also has been buying former locations of the bankrupt toy retailer.
Ollie's paid $42 million for 12 properties in the auction, including two in Ohio. One is at 6547 Sawmill Road, Dublin, and the other is in Cuyahoga Falls in northeast Ohio.
The third local Toys R Us site at 2686 Taylor Road Extension, Reynoldsburg, was claimed by TRU Trust acting through Wells Fargo Bank. The trust may attempt to relaunch a smaller version of the toy retailer, according to sources close to the company. Best Buy was a backup bidder in case the TRU Trust is unable to fulfill payment.
It's unclear from the bankruptcy court filings what price was paid for the Reynoldsburg location.
Toys R Us buildings have been bought in recent months by retailers that have included Columbus-based Big Lots, Ashley HomeStore, Aldi and Burlington, as well as Ollie's and Scandinavian Designs.
Ollie's has 274 stores in 22 states and has been growing rapidly since its 2015 public offering.
Ollie's has operated in Ohio since 2005. It opened its first Columbus store in 2010 in a former Kroger store at 5727 Emporium Square in northeast Columbus.
A second Columbus location opened a month later in a former Big Bear store at 3811 S. High St. in south Columbus. A location in Lancaster opened in 2016 in the Plaza Shopping Center in a former Big Lots site.
Scandinavian Designs, a privately held company based in Petaluma, California, was last in Columbus in the early 1990s. It has 35 locations in nine states, none currently in Ohio.
It's not surprising that Scandinavian Designs would want to get back into central Ohio, said local retail analyst Chris Boring.
"They're looking at the growth in the market," Boring said. "They're seeing a lot of young adults moving into the central Ohio market, and a strong job market with low unemployment.
"Retailers tend to pay a lot more attention to the demand side than to the supply side -- the competition -- and will play a big game of chicken and think the other guys will back down."
In addition, the company's furniture style "has inspired a lot of mid-century modern that's really timeless stuff," said Deb Miller, principal owner of local retail consulting firm Boulevard Strategies.
"I think they've got an opportunity to get back in the market," Miller said. "Nobody is really selling that kind of classic, higher-end Scandinavian furniture that's made with a lot less fiberboard and a lot more real wood."