Column: A bittersweet goodbye to Toys ‘R’ Us as shopping habits change

By Dan Stokes - [email protected]
The Toys ‘R’ Us store on Mundy Street is seen in a file photo taken before the chain announced it was liquidating all U.S. locations. - Times Leader file

When the news dropped in March, it hit me hard.

Toys ‘R’ Us, associated for decades with fun and games, planned to liquidate the inventory in all of its 735 U.S. stores and then close their doors.

Though I hadn’t stepped foot in Toys ‘R’ Us for quite some time, I still felt like an injustice had been done. I thought to myself, “where are the kids of the future going to buy their toys?”

It’s no surprise the chain that served kids for 70 years closed its doors. They couldn’t compete with online shopping, and most of us share the blame.

I just never thought it would be Toys ‘R’ Us. Or maybe I guess I didn’t want to believe it.

The Amazon generation has spelled doom for many bricks-and-mortar stores. With online retailers offering a wide range of options and fast shipping, traditional shopping malls and big box chain stores are feeling the pinch.

Toys ‘R’ Us didn’t stand a chance. That doesn’t mean the end didn’t hurt.

After my initial reaction, I took a few moments to gather my thoughts and reflect on all the memories I had of childhood toys bought there.

Whether it be Rescue Heroes when I was five or wrestling action figures when I was 12, the store will always have a special place in my heart.

When I heard of the closing I felt nostalgic. I called my friend Kenny up and we went to two of our local Toys ‘R’ Us stores and just walked around. I’m not going to lie: I was there in part to strike a deal on some cheap video games. When we walked out, though, we just couldn’t believe that it was coming to an end.

The emotions came back again last week, as the stores finally shut their doors. Scrolling through my social media feeds, I saw a photo of Toys ‘R’ Us mascot Geoffrey the Giraffe holding a suitcase saying goodbye.

That was bad. But there was worse to come.

Another showed a poster which read: “I guess everyone has grown up. There’s no more Toys ‘R’ Us kids.”

I’m a recent college graduate, thrilled to be working in journalism, but those images hammered home that I am no longer the kid I still feel like, sometimes.

I guess I have officially grown up. But I’ll never forget the joy of playing with my Tech Deck Dudes or with Mighty Beanz.

Like many of you, I know I will never forget Toys ‘R’ Us, “the place where a kid can be a kid.”

Dan Stokes is a news reporter for the Times Leader.

The Toys ‘R’ Us store on Mundy Street is seen in a file photo taken before the chain announced it was liquidating all U.S. locations.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/web1_toys.jpgThe Toys ‘R’ Us store on Mundy Street is seen in a file photo taken before the chain announced it was liquidating all U.S. locations. Times Leader file

By Dan Stokes

[email protected]