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March 2018 Retro Gaming Article

March 9, 2018 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

A Bloomberg report prompted cascading reports of aggressive closings of all Toys R Us stores

vintage Toys R Us store
No one expected Toys R Us to bounce back from billions in debt, but CNN reported they may close all stores within one week.
It looks like the end is near for Toys R Us. Having entered bankruptcy protection last September, the outlook seemed bleak. They brokered a loan to get them through the Christmas season, but very little seemed to change at the store level. It seems as though they were biding time in hopes of a white knight swooping in to buy them out or otherwise save the day. Time is up.

A Bloomberg article swept through the web stating that Toys R Us was soon to be liquidating their entire operation and shuttering all of their stores - sooner than one might think. CNN came out with the notion that the beloved toy giant might be gone in a matter of days: Bankrupt retailer Toys "R" Us may shut all its US stores as soon as next week, according to several reports. Time will tell - keep an eye on your local store.

Sinking Ship.. of toys

About a decade ago, Toys R Us went through a leveraged buyout that left the company laden with billions in debt. Until now, they had been able to restructure and finagle around paying off that debt. This left them in a precarious position and as time passed - lots of time - they were focused on managing their debt rather than being able to modernize their retail and online operations. Consequently, many of their stores are too large and very out-dated. The shopping experience hasn't changed much at all over the decades. New toys - old methods.

They've always been known for high prices. I rarely buy anything there without price-matching. I'm the kind of shopper who finds something cool and wants it NOW. Being able to bring down the cost via price-matching made shopping there feasible. As a consumer, I saw no changes in their stores since entering bankruptcy.

Geoffrey Needs A Hug

I'm angry and sad about their imminent closing because it was avoidable and leaves a huge void in the toy market. Liquidating only six months after entering bankruptcy seems like an easy way out for those at the "top" who can walk away with millions of dollars in their pockets. The board approved millions in bonuses to retain personnel key to the Toys R Us turn-around and recovery. Then they liquidate a few months later!?! WTF? That doesn't sound like anything but cheating investors who stand to lose everything as the toy store evaporates.

Liquidating Toys R Us leaves a huge void that will never be filled.
The other factor is the uniqueness of Toys R Us. Many have blamed Amazon and WalMart's aggressive pricing as a key downfall. This is the same excuse used in discussions about failing malls full of vacant stores. The numbers don't add up for the mall story nor Toys R Us!

In the case of TRU, the majority of the blame is on Toys R Us themselves. Regardless of how it happened, liquidation of Toys R Us leaves a huge void in the toy market. If you buy toys at WalMart and think it's the same as TRU - YOU'RE OUT OF YOUR MIND (and a bit dumb).

Toys R Us Will Never Be Replaced

The vast selection and breadth of products at TRU is unparalleled. WalMart has two or three aisles of toys. Toys R Us has enormous stores full of toys. Sure, Amazon seems infinite in their supply of... well, everything. However, discovering products on Amazon is problematic. Strolling the aisles of Toys R Us (or a book store) reveals much more product exposure than a myriad of Amazon website searches. I find cool stuff at TRU all the time. I can't really "shop" on Amazon unless I know specifically what I want.

TRU had high prices, but they stocked a lot of variety on their shelves. You won't find that variety anywhere else. There are still some independent toy stores, but, like WalMart, they don't have much inventory. Where else can you buy Terminator action figures, Splatoon 2, a nerf gun, a Ouija board, Nintendo plush, and a bicycle? Tell me. Anywhere? Consumers are losing a lot with TRU vacating. There is nothing to step in to fill the gap.

Circuit City and Nobody Beats The Wiz went under and Best Buy absorbed that void. Toys R Us is the last lage chain store dedicated to toys. Remember Kay-Bee Toys? There's nothing of this sort in existence. I loved Toys R Us as a kid and an adult. I browsed their stores weekly for as long as I can remember and I always take my son to see what treasures we can find. I'll be sad when Geoffrey is all packed up and off to other adventures. It was a wonderful ride.

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