Earlier I posted news that Toys R Us is to close all its UK stores, starting from tomorrow. The news will come as no real surprise to some, as the writing has been on the wall for a while, but the news still brings much sadness.
Firstly for the 3,000 employees who are about to lose their jobs, this is a huge blow, especially those who have been with the company for years and/or loved their jobs. I truly hope they find alternative employment somewhere equally as suitable and there’s no hardship in between.
The news of Toys R Us’ closure is also sad because it is yet another retail giant that has left the UK high street in recent years – and it’s one which many, myself included, have fond memories of.
Most people will recall a moment (or two) from their childhood where they spent their pocket money in a Toys R Us store. For a long period of time, Toys R Us was the ultimate (and pretty much only) toy haven – a paradise if you like – where birthdays, Christmases and special occasions were spent traversing up and down the aisles.
The nearest Toys R Us store to me was a good 30-40 minute drive away, which meant – as mentioned above – visits were reserved for special occasions. However, as my parents are pretty awesome people, a little bit of pleading and a lot of promising to be good, sometimes resulted in an impromptu visit which broke the norm.
I can remember those visits as if it were yesterday; wandering down the aisles all excited about what I might discover on the shelves. Usually I had an idea of what I was after – TMNT toys, X-Men figures, NES games etc – but there was always the added fun of coming across something new that could turn my head.
For me, Toys R Us was effectively a living recreation of the toy store scene from the movie Big (1988) – only with Geoffrey the Giraffe replacing Tom Hanks. It was a place where fun could be had, where dreams could be met and where toys were king.
But it didn’t just stop there.
The Toys R Us experience spilled into pre-Christmas time too, when the annual TRU catalogue would find its way into our house, usually tucked inside the Sunday newspaper. Within five minutes of the brochure crossing my path, a ball point pen would be in hand and circles would start to appear around toys I hoped Santa would deliver on December 25th.
Jeez, just thinking about it takes me back to being ten years’ old.
In recent years, as a TMNT collector, I would visit Toys R Us stores from time-to-time, usually whilst on the hunt for an elusive figure. While the experience wasn’t quite the same as it was when I was a kid, I still got a rush at the prospect of going to the store – after all, it was freakin’ Toys R Us!
It’s a shame that soon this will all be just another memory.
Of course, time moves on and alas it was inevitable that Toys R Us was going to fall by the wayside. Toys R Us has been in decline for years and it was really only a matter of time before the store was surpassed by competitors. It still doesn’t make it any easier to accept though.
This year there will be no TRU catalogue and no TRU Christmas advert (an annual tradition) and while we will all move on, occasionally commenting on ‘how we all used to love Toys R Us’ or ‘how we all miss Toys R Us’, the truth is the kids of today will simply shop elsewhere. It’s just a shame that they never got to experience Toys R Us in its prime. Now that was something truly amazing.