I never thought this day would come. Toy’s R Us is closing its doors for good in May 2018. (See CNBC Press Release for more info.) It came as a shock that the company was no longer profitable after so many years of making children all over the world happy. Be it through Santa, The Three Wise Men, Easter bunny or during Hanukkah, parents and kids alike had a million possibilities to choose from, all winners in my book. I bought my first handheld video game console, the Nintendo Gameboy, at the Plaza Las Americas store back when it launched in 1989. Grabbing a ticket, paying at check out and going to the pick up window became a family tradition that lasted until they moved away from this system for swankier inventory control and anti theft technology. Every trip was an adventure!
When my sister was born, my mom went to the store weekly to get formula and other essentials like juice and diapers. Her code word for this trips were “vamos pa Tos-R-us” because that was how the newest member of the clan called the store. I envied all of the children whose parents left the store with swing sets and pool sets. I wished dearly someday my mom would swing around the lot to pick up a big Barbie Dollhouse (which she did for my sister) or a Power Wheels, which were not only expensive but got you great street cred. What I didn’t realize at the time is all the children that envied me for even being able to afford the items purchased. Everytime I went through its door as an adult I made a Toys For Tots donation to honor both my mom’s military service and those unfortunate souls who never were Toys R Us kids.
Funny how things work. The chain saw me grow up and graduate to having my own registry at Baby’s R Us. Even after cancelling it because of the miscarriage it was still one of my most frequented places. The staff signed me up after the third time they saw W and me come in to purchase Baby Shower gifts for friends. We racked up so many points and discounts that we split our holiday shopping between both stores. Our extended family grew and both brands were there for us to facilitate the journey. Such a sad feeling to not be able to save them from going out of business. Remaining loyal was our way of patronizing them and help them succeed, but it wasn’t meant to be. The house that Geoffrey built is no more. Future generations of children won’t get to experience the utter joy of walking these halls. Of being wooed by the catchy singles and legendary catalogs.
A few years ago I wrote about how we prefer the brick and mortar stores to online shopping: The Death of The Brick and Mortar Store?. This still holds true. As we slowly say adieu to underperforming Macy’s and Sears locations, and see the chains and brands that saw us grow up into engineers and consumers in our own right fade away, we make an extraordinary effort to support the retailers that add value to our lives. Jobs are at stake, and as optimistic as I am that capitalism and the free market will balance the equation, it is heartbreaking to see the collateral damage furloughs and layoffs cause to everyday hardworking families. The buildings, all empty now, serve as a testament to how quickly a popular retailer can fall from grace. No industry is immune to competition. It joins the annals of history next to CompUSA, Circuit City, Woolworths, Big Cheese Pizza, Pontiac, Palm, Farmacias Moscoso, Gonzalez Padín and other brands that influenced the type of consumer I am today.
As I sit and type this from my car the rain starts to hit my windshield. The sky opens up as if it too felt the deep emotions stirred by all the beautiful memories running through my mind; the many fun excursions made as a family playing around its aisles until we found the perfect entertainment items for game time. From V-Tech computers to Nerf dart guns, from Super Nintendo to the Switch, I owe the employees and stakeholders some of my happiest moments in life. I will never forget the smiles and the negotiation skills, that I developed in store. ☺🤭 Thank you! You will be greatly missed, as the love for your products and services remains.
Adieu, mon ami. Adieu.