Its slogan was iconic: “I don’t wanna grow up, I’m a Toys R Us kid.” And perhaps for anyone who ever visited one over its 70-year history, the slow demise of the toy giant was as painful as saying goodbye to childhood.
Friday marked the final day of Toys R Us as liquidators officially closed the retailers’ doors in the Sacramento area and across the country, the end of a chain known to generations of children and parents for its sprawling stores, brightly colored logo and Geoffrey the giraffe mascot.
Most of the toy retailer’s U.S. locations, including Arden Fair, Elk Grove’s Bond road store – which is set to become a Scandinavian Designs furniture location – and other local sites, ended the day by selling off the remaining inventory, shelves and pretty much everything that wasn’t bolted down.
Toys R Us – once “the biggest toy store there is” with 1,450 stories worldwide – filed for Chapter 11 reorganization last fall, unable to keep up with big-box and online competitors. It pledged to stay open, but had poor sales during the critical holiday season as customers and vendors shied away.
In January, it announced plans to close about 180 stores, but then in March it said it would liquidate the rest of the 700-plus U.S. stores. As the last of the U.S. stores close, more than 30,000 workers will be looking for work. Toys R Us’ troubles have also shaken some big toymakers such as Mattel and Hasbro.
Customers who are still devoted to shopping for toys at a brick-and-mortar store will be looking to retailers Walmart and Target, which are expanding their toy aisles to fill the hole. Party City also is opening 50 pop-up toy shops this fall.
On Thursday at the Arden Way location, shoppers cleared the racks, many mourning the loss of a chain that, for some, carries that nostalgic weight of youth.
“It’s so shocking still,” said Marisela Saldago, who purchased some of the remaining items Thursday. “It’s kinda depressing to see it finally go.”
Her mother, Elva Martin, said Saldago had stopped off at the store to see what was still left, and decided to buy some of the remaining journals, stickers and other school supplies for children who attended her mother’s daycare. Both described how the loss of Toys R Us spanned several generations of kids and parents alike.
“I used to see a whole toy store full of toys and Play-Doh, all types of electronics,” said Saldago, 17. “Now I see just empty shelves.”
Her sentiments were echoed far and wide on social media. Twitter users all over the nation shared their sadness for the loss of the place where Toys R Us kids once declared they didn't want to grow up.
Even Toys R Us itself tweeted a farewell.