Toys in the Attic

Image result for geoffrey the giraffe out of business
“I’ll miss ya Geoffrey!” 

Last week one of the worst kept secrets in U.S. business news was finally confirmed: Toys R Us is all done. I wasn’t shocked or surprised. Financial and mainstream news sites have been predicting it for over a year now. Like anything else though, the official confirmation of it always stings.

I don’t know exactly when my community got its Toys R Us store. It was sometime in the ’80s. I believe it was late ’80s because I remember when we didn’t have one. I used to see commercials for it on Chicago’s WGN Channel 9 and WFLD Channel 32 when I watched my G.I. Joe and He-Man cartoons. I would get jealous knowing those lucky kids in the Chicagoland area were enjoying the majesty and wonder of Geoffrey the Giraffe’s kingdom of toys while I was stuck with the little toy store in my local mall.

Then my toy world opened up! Not only did we get our own Toys R Us, we even got one of these:

Image result for children's palace toy store
Children’s Palace, a.k.a. Child World in some locations

Both places were great. For a 8-year-old-or-something kid, it was like Heaven times two. Eventually Children’s Palace bit the dust. Parents didn’t suddenly stop buying their kids toys. The place was mismanaged at the top end. They also probably grew too quickly to begin with. They went from an unknown to seemingly having as many stores as Toys R Us in like five years. Most of the buildings live on in various cities. Ours is a J.C. Penny Home Store now. Many turned into Burlington Coat Factories.

Toys R Us continued on strong. As my friends and I got a little old for toys, it became a place for board games and video games. Eventually dedicated video game stores like Electronics Boutique (called Game Stop today) became the place for video game shopping, thus ending my shopping days at Toys R Us.

Thus started a long run of separation for Geoffrey and me. Unless I was getting something for my nieces and nephews when they were younger, I had no reason to stop by.

With young kids of my own now in tow, Toys R Us came back into my life the last few years. Just this past winter Julie and I went shopping there one night for the boys. I was well aware of the company’s financial peril by this time, and I stepped in realizing it might be the last time I ever step foot in a Toys R Us.

Image result for geoffrey the giraffe out of business
Goodbye Old Friend!”

When I heard the official confirmation of the liquidation, of course I was sad. I thought about how much it sucks my kids won’t grow up being “Toys R Us Kids.”

Yet the more I thought about it, I’m not sure my kids will really care. They’re growing up in a different generation than me. When they see a commercial for a toy they want, they’re not going to say, “Hey Daddy, can we go to the toy store? Pleeeeeease?” They’re going to say, “Daddy, can you go on your phone and buy us that toy?” That’s the world they know.

The truth is……….the sadness is more for me than them. Their generation won’t have the personal and sensory connections to brick and mortar stores like our generation and generations before us did.

In an odd way, maybe we should be envious.  I still miss this place:

Image result for scottsdale mall south bend
Scottsdale Mall, South Bend’s Southside

My grandchildren one day will look back on the history of malls and wonder why we wasted all that space.

Maybe it’s all part of a bigger picture. Stepping into Toys R Us or the mall you hung out at in your youth……maybe it temporarily brings us back. Reminds us of our childhood. Losing these places provides a sort of physical representation of time’s passage.

With that being said, one last time………..the way Geoffrey taught us:

I don’t wanna grow up, I’m a Toys R Us kid
they got a million toys at Toys R us that I can play with
I don’t wanna grow up, I’m a Toys R Us kid
they got the best for so much less, it’ll really flip your lid
From bikes to trains to video games
it’s the biggest toy store there is (gee whiz!)
I don’t wanna grow up, cause maybe if I did
I couldn’t be a Toys R Us kid
more games, more toys, oh boy!
I wanna be a Toys R Us kid

-Vic

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