Business & Finance

Local Toys “R” Us Kids Reflect on Imminent Store Closings

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LIVINGSTON, NJ – After seven decades in business bringing joy to kids around the country by way of its brick-and-mortar stores; the iconic, relatable Geoffrey the Giraffe mascot; and shelves stocked with every type of toy imaginable, Toys “R” Us announced that it would begin closing up shop on March 23.

According to a Toys “R” Us associate, Saturday, June 30 will be the last day of business for the Livingston location on Route 10.

No longer able to compete with online and large, one-stop-shopping retailers, the toy store so many associate with fond childhood memories was unable to avoid filing for bankruptcy last September, hoping it could turn the tide by minimizing billions of dollars’ worth of debt. However, on the heels of a dismal holiday-selling season, the writing on the wall became clear for the well-known chain, which reported in mid-March that it would be closing 735 Toys “R” Us and Babies “R” Us stores—leaving 31,000 employees jobless.

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At the Livingston location, most items are currently marked down to 10-percent off retail with some items as discounted as much as 30 percent. As the closing nears, these discounts will increase, according to an associate.

Longtime local patrons are already mourning the passing of an age where a trip to the local Toys “R” Us was a childhood rite of passage.

“The Toys ‘R’ Us closing is telling an entire generation of kids that it’s finally time to grow up,” said Livingston resident Jennifer Ziscand Kessler.  “As a kid, the idea of being taken there was a signal that something special would be happening.  It harkens to an era where a new toy could actually make things better.”

She added that she is going to “miss that feeling of magic that happened when [she] walked through their doors.” 

“As an adult, I’ll miss knowing that I could do something small and make my children feel like I was giving them the moon—even by going in just to look at the toys,” said Ziscand Kessler.

“I’ll miss taking my kids here for special occasions and rewards and just walking around to see what’s new,” said local resident Michelle Auerbach.

Pointing to one of Toys “R” Us’ popular marketing strategies, Livingston mom Fran Entrada Siminoff said, “I will miss the call from Geoffrey the Giraffe on my kids’ birthdays. I’ll never forget how my mom bought my first cabbage patch kid doll there after having waited on a very long line to get it one year for Christmas.”

Roseland resident Kelly Fantasia cited Toys “R” Us as the reason she likes Black Friday so much. 

“I would go to Toys ‘R’ Us in the morning and get three carts full of toys for my kids,” she said. “Corporate came. They’d walk you to your car and help you put your bags in the car and that was always our official start to Christmas. That’s my first mom memory of Toys ‘R’ Us.”

Even the most recent generation has gotten a taste of the concept of the traditional toy store their parents had grown accustomed to—to the point where they, too, will feel the void.

“At Toys ‘R’ Us, I could see all the toys and games that are out there,” said junior consumer, Adam Johnston. “I liked going to a store where there were only toys and nothing else.”

Although the toy market is disappearing, when asked what they would like to see go into the vacant space, area residents still see the spirit of that space as being kid-friendly.

“I’d honestly prefer a play space type of place,” said Livingston resident Suzy Lugashi. “I actually didn’t like the layout of the Toys ‘R’ Us store and didn’t find it fun to go.”

Fantasia agreed that it would be best if the space was used for kids.

“I would say something for the kids that’s a fun, relaxed place to go,” said Fantasia. “Almost like a kiddie lounge with chocolate treats or ice cream.”

Ziscand Kessler added that “the stakes are so much grander now.”

“Our children expect so much more for so much less,” she said. “‘Mommy, I’m sad so can I get an iPhone?’ they ask. We no longer live in a world where something small makes it better.”

While Toys “R” Us rewards coupons are no longer being accepted, Endless Earnings in the form of e-gift cards are still being honored through Saturday, April 21. Additionally, while Rewards “R” Us and Endless Earnings customers might still see point accruals on their accounts, these rewards are no longer redeemable.

Those holding Toys “R” Us credit cards can continue to use their cards through the end of the liquidation sales. However, any rewards associated with those cards will no longer be accepted.

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