Although rumors have been swirling around for weeks, it is now, sadly, official: Toys “R” Us, maybe the most iconic and beloved toy store chain—an American institution since 1957!—is closing all of its stores according to a report on CNN. That is some 800 stores in the United States alone, and about 33,000 jobs that will disappear. Back in September, Toys “R” Us filed for bankruptcy, hoping that might help save the company in the long run. But it was too little, too late. Toys “R” Us apparently had not made full-year profit since 2012 and has lost $2.5 billion since. So the writing was on the wall.
Nevertheless, if you were a kid anywhere from the 1970s to the 199os, chances are you were a Toys “R” Us kid. We all had the catchy jingle memorized. When your family took you to Toys “R” Us, it was almost the equivalent of going to Disneyland. I was a kid in the ’80s heyday of afternoon cartoons as 30 minute commercials for toys, so going to Toys “R” Us was like going to the promised land. He-Man, Cabbage Patch Kids, Transformers, Barbie, GI Joe, My Little Pony—whatever toy line was your poison, they didn’t just have their own section, they had their own massive aisle. It was toy heaven. And chances are, if your parents were taking you there, even if it was to shop for someone else, you weren’t coming out empty handed.
The loss of Toys “R” Us marks the end of an era of a type of American consumerism, and this news probably means more to adults right now than it means to young kids, who have a different relationship to toys than previous generations. For them, toys are something that arrives in a brown Amazon box, or maybe something you get at a Walmart or Target. But for us, Toys “R” Us is where the toys lived, and getting to go there and wander its aisles was a rare treat that we all cherished. So R.I.P., Toys “R” Us, you made generations of kids very happy.
Do you have fond memories of going to Toys “R” Us as a kid? Be sure to share them down below in the comments.
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Images: Toys “R” Us