UNITED STATES—Last week many Americans learned devastating news when it came to well-known retailer Toys R’ Us. Yes, after being in business for close to four decades, the toy icon is closing all of its stores. Now, we learned a few months ago the retailer filed bankruptcy and might be closing a few stores after filing bankruptcy. However, this past week we learned the notion of going to a store that specializes in all things toys will no longer exist.
Now, look this column is NOT pointed to talk about the issue of what led Toys R’ Us to close its doors, I’ve written another column to address the issue of online shopping vs. big box stores. This column is more so to talk about how American pop culture as we know it, will forever change with the closing of this iconic retailer. I mean when I shared the news with my niece, who is 5, she thought I was joking. So she actually had to see the TV to realize I wasn’t joking about her favorite toy store as she knows it will soon no longer exist.
I mean for kids the opportunity to go to Toys R’ Us is a once in a lifetime experience. I mean there are many kids who NOW, will never get that experience. To walk into a store with toys galore, and everything little tots, to youngsters, tweens, teens, young adults, adults and even the elderly can enter and find that special item that you will not find anywhere else is special. This is what saddens me the most about this retailer. The world of toys are about to be vastly changed.
There are people saying you can still go to other retailers like Walmart, Target, Meijer, GameStop, Amazon, but that’s the problem: these places DO NOT SPECIALIZE in all things toys! I mean there are toymakers out right now, that may suffer greatly from the demise of Toys R’ Us because that demand or need will diminish. People are not thinking about that, and I’m trying to remind them because we need toy stores. Places that specialize not only on unique toys, but well known toymakers and brands.
As a kid, I recall entering Toys R’ Us in the 80s with my brothers and sisters when I was young. It was a trip my father did for me and my siblings once a week, now I didn’t get a toy every single week. My dad would alternate, where one week it was my turn, the next week it was my sister, the next week it was my brother. It was the notion of being able to enter this massive store, run down the aisles and pick up the one toy item that I wanted that I will never forget. I was also glad my father did this because it taught me discipline and also the importance of not being spoiled. You’re not going to get a toy every single time, but I could see the hottest toys and what trends were coming into play.
As an adult, visiting Toys R’ Us to pick-up toys for my nieces, nephews and kids is an experience in itself. Yes, some can make the argument that the prices were a bit high at times at Toys R’ Us, but things weren’t so excessive to where it was impossible to purchase a coveted item. I mean I’ve visited Toys R’ Us on countless occasions where this was the ONLY place that had an item that was a must-have on some people’s Christmas list. I don’t think I can say that about Target, Walmart, Amazon, GameStop, Meijer and whatever toy stores may actually be still in existence.
In addition, Toys R’ Us was the one place rather a kid or an adult, it was okay to act like a kid, to play, to awe and just have pure fun in a place that allows you to be a child or reconnect with the feelings you once exuded as a child. With Toys R’ Us’ demise, I don’t think I can say its ok to be a big kid anymore!