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Toys "R" Us


The entire internet mourns

by Felipe Parada

There are many things that I remember fondly about my childhood: my first little league game, the first girl I had a crush on and the first time I went to a Toys "R" Us. It was 1988 ( I was 8 years old) and my father took my brother and I to Toys "R" Us on Route 17 North in Paramus, New Jersey to get us our first home console, The Nintendo Entertainment System. It was the NES bundle came with Super Mario Bros and Duck Hunt (till this day I still hate that damn dog.) That specific Toys "R" Us was one of the larger ones in our area and the concept of a Toys Superstore were things of legend. I still remember having to go to customer service, behind that large glass pane, just to pick up a game. Those were the days. 


At the time, when we went to Toys "R" Us it was for a special occasions. Whether it was buying a birthday gift for a friend, family member or getting something special for yourself for getting straight A's that semester. Toys "R" Us wasn't just a place to go to to get toys or games, it was a shopping experience. I dare someone not to sing the Toys "R" Us jingle, a jingle that has been burnt into the subconscious of every man woman and child who grew up going there. 


Sadly those days are no more, as we speak Toys "R" Us no longer exists. All the intellectual properties have been sold off and all the stores have been liquidated. There might be only one or two stores left somewhere trying to get rid of whatever inventory they have left. We cant deny the fact that a part of our childhood has died with them. I didn't think I would take this hard but after passing by several Toys "R" Us stores, it hit me, my children wont get to experience the feeling of walking into a Toys "R" Us for the first time. That feeling of amazement and wonder as you see nothing but toys neatly stacked from floor to ceiling. And all that I can think of is, "How did it come to this? Where did it go wrong? How could this toy Juggernaut fall so quickly?" Well sadly enough, it was all their undoing, failing to adapt with the times and now they got swallowed up whole. 

Death by 1000 cuts


Many of us like to believe that Amazon was the sole reason for the demise of the once beloved toy retailer but sadly that wasn't the only reason. It's true that online shopping did not help Toys "R" Us whatsoever but the struggles of Toys "R" Us began way before the boom of online shopping began. The "Death by 1000 Cuts" campaign began with The company being saddled with billions of dollars worth of debt. That debt made it near impossible for them to make the necessary investments in their stores and especially on their website, this made for a rather outdated and unpleasant shopping experience. It's really hard to get customer through the door when the warehouse setting hasn't changed since the late 1980's, around the time when I really started to become a Toys "R" Us kid. 


The Toys "R" Us' debt problem dates back to the days before Amazon. While Amazon began its campaign of transforming the online shopping landscape, Toys "R" Us was still trying to pay back its massive debt load rather than stay competitive. When they filed for bankruptcy back in September 2017 it had about $5 billion dollars worth of debt with an extra $400 million just trying to service that debt. It is a terrible situation to be in, whether you are a business or individual. Once Toys "R" Us figured out that they needed more of an online presence, it was already too late. Their website was clunky as all holy hell and trying to find just one item took you minutes rather than seconds.


Your not only trying to compete with other retailers in regards to a specific product but you  are competing with the fundamental way your website works. Sadly this was a crucial factor sped up the demise of Toys "R" Us, their lack of adapting with the way the marketplace was shifting. If you don't change with the times, you get left behind. But how much change can you make when you are $5 million dollars in debt? Apparently not much.

Now what?


Sadly many people will be affected by the closing, 31,000 people to be exact. 31,000 former employees that will have no job and no severance. No more Toys "R" Us, the chain is gone, plain and simple. The name has and will always conjure yup beautiful memories of what it was to be a Toys "R" Us kid. We all knew someone who worked there, there was some occasions that I applied to the local Toys "R" Us store but I never got to be a part of that family. I am so in denial that I recently tried calling the Toys "R" Us customer service number and I recieved a chilling message, see link below to hear exactly what I heard.

Future generations will never know of the experience of going into a Toys "R"Us. We'll only speak fondly of it, like the times we went to Blockbuster to rent a movie, or typing up a paper on a Remington typewriter, and who could forget taking a picture with a Polaroid Camera. Sadly Toys "R" Us fits that category now and I really wish it wasn't so but if there's one thing that is certain in life is that things change. 


All we can really do is say thank you. Thank you Toys "R" Us for creating so many memories for us and allowing us to experience something that was truly unique. It was a place that we could go to where our imagination ran wild as we ran up and down the isles wishing we could buy everything in the store. It didn't matter how old you were, or where you came from, what color you were, or what political affiliation you aligned to. You were always welcome to come in and let your inner kid out. You really felt like a kid again.......and for that I'll always be a Toys "R" Us kid.

How did Toys "R" Us change your life? Were you also a Toys "R" Us kid? Leave a comment below:

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