The sheer anticipation of walking up and down the aisles of Toys “R” Us and picking out the toy of my choice are some of my best childhood memories. Our family did not have a lot of money, so when my mom and dad told us we were going to Toys “R” Us, we knew dad got a good paycheck and they were going to share in the wealth. Oh . . . the waiting . . and the exhilaration the minute we got into the car dressed in our Sunday best to drive to the store where we each were allowed to pick out one item. My imagination went wild with the thought of traversing the aisles. Should I get a doll? A game? Or, maybe a puzzle? How about baseball bat? A paint set? Choices, choices, choices. But I could only pick one and it took time to make that kind of a decision. Up and down the aisles. Then up and down the aisles again and again looking at every single item within my eyesight. Fortunately, there were five of us kids, and it took a lot of time for everyone to zero in on their one item. When I finally did choose, I would act like it was something that was purchased at FAO Schwartz, delicately handling it and not letting anyone else touch it or play with it because it was, of course, from Toys “R” Us, which in my world, based on our income level, was a luxury store.
Unfortunately, on March 15, 2018, Toys “R” Us announced it was going away. The stores will liquidate and close their doors. The iconic giraffe Geoffrey (which I never really understood the connection between a toy store and a giraffe), we will see no more. The founder, Charles Lazarus, died just days after the announcement that the stores would be closing for good. A sad ending for an iconic brick and mortar specialty store.
I can’t imagine growing up without Toys “R” Us in my life and the joy I felt just walking through the front doors. I don’t know how kids these days can achieve the same level of excitement by their parents shopping on Amazon, or by walking down two or three aisles at Walmart or Target. I mean, Toys “R” Us was an entire store devoted only to kids. Kids ruled. The thought that our youth will not enjoy a similar life experience with a store of their own is heartbreaking.