Toys R Us is as good as dead. The once-dominant toy store chain has suffered steep sales declines and has struggled to pay its debt, leaving the company little choice but to close or sell all of its U.S. stores. More than 33,000 Toys R Us employees will soon be out of work.
The demise shouldn't be shocking to anyone who's been paying attention to the company's rapidly declining fortunes over the years. But it's still bittersweet for people who spent their childhoods longing to spend allowance or birthday money there. Or those who worked at a Toys R Us in high school or college. Or those who took their kids there, not only to shop but for the experience of leisurely strolling through a place designed to celebrate fun.
I happen to fit into all three of those categories, as I'm sure many people my age do, too.
When I was a kid, going to Toys R Us was a treat. Money was usually tight in my family, but when I had some in my pocket I made it a point to ask – no, beg – my mom or grandparents to drive me to Toys R Us so I could quickly turn that cash into action figure and video game gold. Even after I had supposedly grown out of the toy phase, my friends and I would spend some of our high school nights scouring the aisles for "Star Wars" figures. Darth Maul was especially hard to find.