Toys R Us is headed toward shuttering its U.S. operations, jeopardizing the jobs of some 30,000 employees while signaling the end for a chain known to generations of children and parents for its sprawling stores and Geoffrey the giraffe mascot. (March 15)
I was 6-years old in the summer of 1998 when my house burned down in an electrical fire.
My memories are fairly limited about exactly what happened after the fire was put out. But the one thing that sticks out is a teacher from our elementary school, Miss Judy, taking my older sister, younger brother and myself to Toys R Us to pick out a new toy.
I still remember the car ride home, with my new GameBoy game (Pokémon Blue).
Looking back, like many people I grew up as a “Toys R Us kid” and the store was a staple of my childhood. Whether going to check out a new video game in the “R Zone” or looking at bikes with my brother, my visits left an impact on me.
Even years later, driving by the Paramus, N.J. store near my home brought back wistful memories, making this week’s news of its impending liquidation feel like a particularly strong blow to the remnants of a pre-internet, pre-Amazon world.
And I was far from alone.
“As a kid growing up in the ‘80s, what struck me most about Toys R Us was the size of the store,” wrote Dan Skinner, 41, wrote in an email to USA TODAY.
“Toys and board games and bikes were stacked stories high. When you were 8-years old, those displays felt like skyscrapers. There were other places to buy toys, but none of them were as massive as Toys R Us.”
Taha M. Arvas was in kindergarten in 1985 when his teacher told his class to “bring in our teddy bears for a teddy bear competition.” So Arvas went with his mother to the retailer. “Still remember the sky-high aisles (and) countless “bears” to choose from. It is still one of my first and fondest memories,” he tweeted.
Yvonne Cappiello still remembers going early to her store to get her kids’ Christmas gifts. “I used to think I was crazy to do that. Truth is, I’d do it all over again. Will miss you Toys r Us!,” she tweeted.
Others, like Bobby Armes, remember Geoffrey the Giraffe, the company’s famous mascot.
“I remember that Geoffrey would give my children a phone call every year to wish them a happy birthday,” Armes tweeted. “That was special and it was very appreciated. We will miss you.”
So thanks for the memories, Toys R Us. We will always be “Toys R Us Kids.”
Have your own Toys R Us memory? Tell us on Twitter @usatodaymoney or email Eli Blumenthal at firstname.lastname@example.org
Contributing: Chris Woodyard
Follow Eli Blumenthal on Twitter @eliblumenthal
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