No more Toys R Us kids.

End of an era: Toys R Us to shutter all 800 remaining stores

By —— Bio and Archives--March 15, 2018

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End of an era: Toys R Us to shutter all 800 remaining stores
I get it.  Things change.  Companies rise and fall. Institutions are not guaranteed.  Toys R Us is just a corporation and, as capitalists like to say, none of them should be “too big to fail.” Still…the demise of “the world’s biggest toy store” stings.

Here’s the news, via the WaPo:


Toy store chain Toys R Us is planning to sell or close all 800 of its U.S. stores, affecting as many as 33,000 jobs as the company winds down its operations after six decades, according to a source familiar with the matter.

The news comes six months after the retailer filed for bankruptcy. The company has struggled to pay down nearly $8 billion in debt — much of it dating to a 2005 leveraged buyout — and has had trouble finding a buyer. There were reports earlier this week that Toys R Us had stopped paying its suppliers, which include the country’s largest toymakers. On Wednesday, the company announced it would close all 100 of its U.K. stores. In the United States, the company told employees closures would likely occur over time, and not all at once, according to the source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss internal deliberations.

I’m not downplaying the economic realities. TRU was buried in debt and little was done to turn it around. Once in the hole, they kept digging. Yesterday’s news was neither shocking, nor was it unexpected. I’m also aware the real tragedy is that somewhere in the neighborhood of 33,000 people are about to lose their jobs thanks to a brutal combination of mismanagement, online competition, and a general change in the way kids play. It’s also going to be a bitter pill for toymakers who relied on TRU-driven holiday sales.

I understand all of that, but the news that Toys R Us is about to close its doors has me bummed in a more personal way.

Toys R Us is one of those rare companies that manages to occupy a nostalgic, emotional, spot for a lot of people. If you’re of a certain age, probably born in the late 60’s or early 70’s, you understand what I mean. In some odd way, it isn’t just a store.  It’s childhood comfort food, a cartoony aesthetic that conjures up images of a 1970’s childhood - a sentimental way-back machine to the era of Micronauts, Stretch Armstrong, Mego Super Heroes, GI Joe and Star Wars.

Admittedly, if you’ve taken your own children into a Toys R Us recently, you know it’s not the same anymore. It hasn’t been for a long time. As I said above, the chain labored under mismanagement for decades.  That resulted in changes to the stock, the store’s appearance, and the general vibe of the place.  Part of that comes from the fact that we all grew up, and we “can’t go home again,” but it was also a tangible manifestation of bad corporate decisions.

Over the years, FAO Schwarz, Circus World, KayBee, and a host of similar outlets trod a similar path into oblivion. Business is business. Is it ridiculous to mourn the passing of a once-mighty corporation?  Probably.

Still, this truly feels like the end of an era…

Toys R US Christmas 1976 cartoon classic

1980 Toys R Us Halloween Commercial


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Robert Laurie -- Bio and Archives | Comments

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