The End of an Era: Toys “R” Us is Shutting Its Doors : by TuAnh Duong

Imagine that you are five years old. It’s December, and you know what that means: Christmas! You highly anticipate seeing your extended family members, eating all of the delicious foods, watching holiday shows and movies, and most importantly, opening all of the presents! As a child, you’re most likely into toys. Whatever it is — LEGO’s or Barbies or action figures or anything else in between. Now comes to the question: Where could you go to to browse the toy selection? Well, there is Walmart, Target, and Kmart. Yet, all of those retail stores have a disadvantage in that they don’t specialize in toys. They have a limited selection, just a few rows, and that is it. There is only one place that you can go to for buying toys, and that is Toys “R” Us. However, the daily trips to the toy retailer will soon come to an end as they reported, they will go out of business.

First off, there is history that needs to be established. The toy retailer which first started out as Children’s Supermart was founded in Washington, D.C. during the postwar baby boom era in 1948 as a baby-furniture store by Charles P. Lazarus. Sadly enough, amidst all of the recent news of bankruptcy and the closing of stores, Lazarus died at the age of ninety-four on March 22, 2018. When he first created Children’s Supermart, he listened to his customers and, after adding baby toys, received requests for toys for older children. The focus of the store changed in 1957, and Toys “R” Us was born in Rockville, Maryland. With its mascot as Geoffrey the Giraffe, Toys “R” Us thrived and quickly became the toy store that parents and children would go to for buying toys. As a result, it dominated many other smaller retailers, such as KB Toys, and with its market field all to its own, the retailer opened up two other subsidiaries. Kids “R” Us, a children’s discount clothing retailer, which failed and Babies “R” Us, a mildly successful specialty baby products retailer. Up to now, there were a little over 820 stores in North America and much more scattered throughout Africa, Asia, Europe, and Australia.

Already off to a bad start, 2018 has not been kind to retailers just like the previous two years. Iconic ones such as Sears/Kmart, Macy’s, and J. C. Penney have been closing left and right. There are many factors to blame but the most obvious is the internet! According to Fox Business, “the annual United Parcel Service (UPS) Pulse of the Online Shopper survey found that, for the first time ever, online purchases of non-grocery items surpassed in-store purchases only by a slim 51% to 49% margin.” Should this be a warning sign to retailers? As well it should be, for years, in-stores had been how people bought their products. With the introduction of the internet, it has rapidly caught up in the playing field and it has now started to surpassed them.

It sure is sad having to write this article about Toys “R” Us going out of business. I don’t know if it’s just me but when I was younger, going into this store was one of the best feelings. To a certain extent it was like in Home Alone 2: Lost in New York when Kevin went to Duncan’s Toy Chest. I had that same feeling. When it was close to my birthday or Christmas, I would always be in there dreaming about the endless toys and shelves there was. However, I soon stopped going there, and now coming back to see the closing sale, again it was a bit sad. If you have never been inside a Toys “R” Us store, I strongly advise you to go in one before it’s too late. To me, the seventy year old retailer had lost its magic and to be frankly honest, their prices were a bit much. I could have easily gone to the nearby Walmart and probably get it a lower price and if I was not in a rush, I could order it off my phone and wait about a week. Also, I believed that they specialized too specific to their audience. They needed to expand the market field but it was too late. In ending this article, I want it to be on a positive note. So, here’s to all of the joyful and happy memories that we had with Toys “R” Us.

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