It’s finally closing time for Toys R Us, the troubled toy chain that so many of us grew up with.
Hit hard by the both the shift to online shopping and the trend of children preferring downloadable video games, the chain is closing its last 200 stores this Friday, June 29, 2018.
In these final days, many parents and kids are stopping in not just for last-minute bargains, but to say goodbye to part of their childhood.
We found Toys R Us kids, both young and old, walking into the chain’s Kenwood store outside Cincinnati to grab bargains.
Mom Christine Bowie brought her three children to bargain hunt.
“The kids had fun,” she said. “They got some toys for 20 cents.”
But Bowie, who shopped there with her mother when she was a child, said for her, it was more a chance to grab a last look at a vanishing piece of American history: the toy store.
“It’s just really really sad,” she said. “It’s depressing. I feel really bad for everyone.”
What’s Left Inside
We went inside and found little more than leftover toys for sale, rows of empty shelves, mismatched products laying in shopping carts, and yellow caution tape everywhere.
It looked like a scene out of post-apocalyptic movie, a world looking for a hero like Mad Max to rescue it, or perhaps a team of Skylanders, about the only action heroes still for sale. (Obviously the chain ordered too many Skylander figures. We found dozens still for sale, at just 39 cents each).
“It looks like a ghost place,” Gus Dudley said, while picking up a few toys for his young son.
A line of shoppers snapped up remaining toys at 60 percent off, clothing at 70 percent off, and even office furniture from the store’s back offices.
The Babies R Us baby registry area, used by thousands of new parents, was dark and empty, with no more newborns on the list.
But with so little merchandise left on the shelves, for many parents this was more about going in for some final memories.
If you grew up as a Toys R Us kid, then brought your children here for Barbies, Power Rangers, Thomas the Tank Engine trains, and Lego Star Wars sets, you too might be like Julie Castilla, emotional to see it go.
“Yup, its goodbye to our childhood store,” she said.
As for the future, Party City plans to rent some of the stores to use as Halloween and Christmas pop-up shops, but after that, more than 200 Toys R Us stores will just be empty buildings… and a memory of a time gone by for so many of us.