In its first three hours of operation on opening day, Israel's first official brick-and-mortar LEGO store attracted 5,500 customers, the company said.
“I am proud and excited to open the store. Israeli consumers have been waiting to have the LEGO experience that can be had abroad and now for the first time they can experience it in Israel,” said Eran Tor, CEO of TorGaming LTD. “The experience is combined with an enormous range of models and nothing like this has ever been seen in Israel, and we will offer unique products that can only be found in the official stores around the world.”
The serial entrepreneur – who previously brought Nintendo to the Jewish state – has been trying to open a LEGO store for more than seven years.
“LEGO is interested in inspiring children, developing their imaginations with creativity and making them into ‘builders of tomorrow.’ I have no doubt that Israeli children who visit the store will feel that everything that can be built here can be built and produced anywhere and for them – the sky is the limit,” Tor said.
The store was designed by the architects of LEGO Europe and is identical to the Danish toy giant’s 628 other LEGO stores around the world.
Exclusive to Israel, however, is the ability for shoppers to construct personalized LEGO mini-figures that resemble their likeness.
The new LEGO Israel website will offer a wide range of products, with options for home delivery, pre-ordering and acquiring limited editions of sets.
“LEGO sees the Israeli market as an important and strategic target,” said Tor in February when the company first announced its plans to open an Israel-based store. “There are customers here that very much appreciate LEGO and, ultimately, it is an emotional connection. I don’t think I’ve ever known any other brand that is loved so much.”
“There is a huge community that grew up with LEGO,” Tor said. “Everyone grows up with LEGO. This brand brings a smile to the lips, not only because it is a game, and it’s fun, but also the way the game is played teaches and develops the imagination, which has rather disappeared in today’s digital world. The happiness I have seen today is exactly what I felt, and I am excited to be the messenger who is doing this here in the country.”
Denmark's Ambassador to Israel Anne Dorte Riggelsen was tapped for the store opening. Riggelsen told The Jerusalem Post that LEGO toys – a key Danish brand – are how Danish people view childhood, as something that should last as long as possible.
“LEGO is, in a way, the consumer goods of the Danish DNA. What we have always had in Denmark is a concept of childhood, which must last as long as possible,” Riggelsen said. “In playing, you learn who you are vis-à-vis the world, but you can perhaps also find your inner creator [and] build a better world.”
LEGO prices are expensive in Israel, which is why Israeli customers frequently buy the popular building blocks for their kids abroad.
In February, Tor said that his aim in building an Israeli LEGO store was “to create a much more competitive and attractive level of prices.”
“The prices are competitive exactly like in Europe and the U.S. and since we announced the opening of the store, the average price on the Israeli market has fallen 35%. It's no secret that prices in Israel were among the world's highest and we have worked to change this and produce a revolution. Some of our products are cheaper than Amazon. Sometimes we are cheaper and sometimes we will be more expensive but today there is no reason to lug Lego in your luggage from abroad."
“The Israeli consumer does not need to buy abroad and today there is a revolution here,” Tor said.
The LEGO “Seinfeld” apartment, for example, can be acquired at the store for 349 ($100) shekels, while the “Back to the Future” DeLorean model costs 699 shekels ($200) .
In an era where children and adults increasingly spend much of their lives in front of screens, LEGO has been promoting creativity through its iconic blocks.
Toward this end, LEGO created the annual international FIRST Robotics Competition geared toward high schoolers. Every year, high school students from 26 countries and regions, including the United States and Israel, compete by displaying their creativity and technical skills.
The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.