“I don’t wanna grow up. I’m a Toys R Us kid.” I can still sing every word of the song even though I haven’t heard it in years. I’d be willing to bet at least half of you can too and immediately started singing it in your head when you read that line. According to news outlets, all Toys R Us stores close their doors today, Friday, June 29 2018. If you go to the store’s website you’ll see the picture on your left. When I was growing up, half of your Christmas or birthday presents came from Toys R Us. You always begged for a gift certificate or you just took the money you got in cards to the store and spent it You would have sold a kidney for a real shopping spree. The idea of being cut loose in that store for 10 minutes was the stuff of many daydreams. I know I had my fair share of items from Toys R Us. My Cabbage Patch Kids came from Toys R Us and I still have them. I still remember test driving my first grown-up bike down the aisles of Toys R Us. My children’s baby furniture, stroller, and car seats came from their affiliate, Babies R Us. While my kids have outgrown most toys, I still managed to go in a couple times a year. It had become a tradition to walk the aisles and make a Christmas wish list now that lookbooks are pretty much a thing of the past. I’m not sure what we are going to do now. I guess we’ll walk the aisles of Walmart and Academy Sports. I’m pretty sure those stores will survive the rest of my kid’s childhood but what about their kids?
I have said for years Amazon is nothing more than Sears was back at the turn of the last century. It’s low cost, one-stop convenience shopping. In 1918, one could order ready made clothes, toys, furnishings for your home and even the house itself from Sears. It came complete with plans and materials shipped by railcar – assembly was up to you. Today, Amazon is doing the same thing only instead of opening a catalog we open up an app. Low cost retailers like Walmart and Amazon have not only killed the mom and pop stores but also highly specialized stores like Toys R Us. And, we only have ourselves to blame. We the consumer are so focused on low cost, more for our money and above all convenience that we have sold our souls to the lowest bidder. We’ve all done it. Show of hands, how many times have you been in a real store to find the item you are looking for is sold out or more expensive than you thought so you immediately look for it on Amazon or some other low cost retailer (cough Walmart)? I know I have. And, stood there in the middle of the other store, using their free Wifi and ordered it from their competitor. Yep, I’m guilty. I’d wager a guess most of you are too.
While most in my age group are sad to see Toys R Us go, I doubt any of us will think much about it until Christmas comes around and we are scrambling for a toy. I’m curious to see what brick and mortar institution will be the next to fall. My money is on Sears and JC Penney. They’re barely hanging on as it is. Furthermore, I can’t help but wonder what’s next in the world of consumerism. I have my doubts Amazon will be the retail superpower Sears was for 100 years. In our fast-paced culture, I’ll give Amazon another 20 or 30 years tops before something bigger and better knocks it off the top of the heap. Forty or fifty years for a company started by some guy selling books out of his garage isn’t too shabby.