Pour One Out For Toys R Us, Which is Officially Closing All U.S. Stores

You’ll have to order your Star Wars action figures online now.

Stop all the Mickey Mouse Clocks, use up your gift cards, let the bargain shoppers come. Soon Toys R Us will be gone.

The store of your ten-year-old dreams is closing every one of its 800 US outlets. Toys R Us filed for bankruptcy six months ago, but according to the Washington Post, that didn’t work out so well.

“The company has struggled to pay down nearly $8 billion in debt,” reports the Post, “and has had trouble finding a buyer.”  

Obviously. This closure—which extends to all 100 UK stores as well—is even less of a surprise than it might have been a month ago, as the once-great chain reportedly cut off payments to to suppliers. 

It’s not too much to say that this is the end of an era. The first Toys R Us opened in 1948, and within 30 years or so it was the biggest name in selling bicycles, baseballs, and GI Joes. Generations of kids went nuts at the idea of wandering the giant stores for as long as their parents could stand it, then they turned into the annoyed parents wincing at the receipts.

But the competition came at Toys R Us hard. First it was Walmart, which pretty much has been killing just about every retail category ever since, then of course came Amazon, and the writing was on the wall. 

The Post quoted Kelly O’Keefe—a Virginia Commonwealth University professor of brand management—who put a fine point on why the store ultimately failed. “We know that customers are willing to pay more for an enjoyable experience,” O’Keefe said, “[Just] look at the lines at Starbucks every day — but Toys R Us has failed to give us anything special or unique.” 

O’Keefe concluded with a real stinger: “You can find more zest for life in a Walgreens.”

Walgreens provides various drugs, which many adults find far more entertaining than a giant stuffed giraffe, but Toys R Us was always special.

So soon, it’ll be gone for good. Grownups know that’s just how life works sometimes. 

But come on, you can admit it. Even if you’ve avoided the hell that is a massive retail toy store at peak shopping season for years, some Stretch Armstrong-clutching, Tickle Me Elmo loathing part of you will always be a Toys R Us kid on the inside. 


h/t WaPo