“I don’t wanna grow up, I’m a Toys R Us kid. There’s a million toys in Toys R Us that I can play with…”
How many of us grew up listening to this commercial? In fact, I bet you are singing it in your head now. If you were like me as a young child, you couldn’t wait to explore the aisles of one of the greatest toy stores ever. It wasn’t just the millions of toys, it was the experience. I would beg my parents for days just to visit Toys R Us to see what new exciting toys came out, beg them to buy me them, and of course start crying when they refused. I just wanted to touch the them and ogle at all of them.
Then I became a parent. I was so excited that I could see the wonder and amazement in my daughter’s eyes when she would see a whole store just devoted to toys… aisles containing Barbie, Lego and books. Her face would light up.
But now, disappointment has set in to all the parents out there in the United States as we found out in March that Toys R Us would be shutting its doors along with its sister store Babies R Us. It is an end of an era. There will be no more big box toy stores around. First K.B. Toys went out of business back in 2009 (although there are rumors that they may be coming back this year). Then the infamous FAO Schwarz, featured in several movies, went through several buyouts (including one from Toys R Us) and ultimately downsized to its one location in Manhattan. And now, we lose Toys R Us.
What I Will Miss At Toys R Us
1. The Toys: Hands down, number 1 on the my list. Sure there are a few aisles of toys present at Walmart and Target, but it is not the same thing. This was a whole 25,000+ square foot store devoted to any toy imaginable. Books to skim through, bikes to test out, the latest video game to try… all at your finger tips, just a short car ride away.
2. The Experience: It wasn’t just my experience I looked forward to. I know I spent countless hours eyeing my next Lego purchase or doll house set. It was my daughter’s experience. She would run up and down the aisles looking at Barbie, Littlest Pet Shop and Monster High. The experience will not exist anymore for most kids. How do we see what our children want for their birthday or the holidays?! Sure there are catalogs, but it isn’t same as touching it. I can’t imagine calling over little Tommy to browse the ‘toy aisles’ of Amazon.
3. Geoffrey’s Birthday Club: It was maybe a year after my daughter was born, that I signed her up for Geoffrey’s Birthday Club. Every year she got a free $3 gift card to spend on anything she wanted. Her last year, age 10, she received a free $5 gift card. In her earlier years we would go to Toys R Us on her birthday. We entered, went up to the Customer Service counter and told them happily that it was her birthday. Her face lit up as they handed her a birthday balloon and crown. She loved hearing them wish her a Happy Birthday over the loud speaker.
4. It Wasn’t Just a Place for Kids: How many of us out there could spend an hour or more in Toys R Us ourselves?! I know for me, as a Lego fanatic, I would look at all the Lego sets. Yes, I know, there are stores now devoted solely to Lego (and believe me, I frequent them). I also spent some time in their art area, video game section, and outdoor equipment. No young child needed.
So Now What?
What do we parents do? After an attempt to raise funds via GoFundMe and various other sites including a 675 million dollar bid by an L.A. toy mogul, it is sadly official that Toys R Us will be no more. Toys R Us gift cards were honored at the store through April 21st. If you have any gift cards left there are only two stores honoring them: Kmart (as long as you are a member of their loyalty program) and Dallas-based Main Event Entertainment. Kmart will honor them up until July 31st. Main Event Entertainment will honor them through May 31st. If not spent by then, you now have a nice memento to remember the end of an era by.
“From bikes to trains, to video games, it’s the biggest toy store there is. I don’t wanna grow up, cuz’ baby if I did, I wouldn’t be a Toys R Us kid.”