It’s only been a few months, but I miss Toys R Us already.
I don’t miss it because I need toys, but because of what it represents.
I can remember many times as a kid wanting to go there. It was always the place to go when you wanted to see what was new in the world of toys. Even if I went home empty handed, it was still fun to go there. The same held true for my kids.
“Dad, can we go to Toys R Us?”
I would always ask why, even though I knew the answer…
“So we can just look at stuff”
And we would.
We would just walk around to see the newest Lego sets. We’d have to check to see if there were any new action figures. And of course, we had to check the Hot Wheels. You never knew what you’d find.
We’d look at bikes and we’d look at video games.
We’d look at everything just because it was there.
“Can I get this?” they would always ask.
“Save your money” is what I’d usually say.
Sometimes I’d give in and say yes. Sometimes we’d compromise on something smaller and sometimes it was just an outright “NO”. Even if they went home empty handed just as I did a time or two, it was a rare, but cherished parental bonding moment.
I never realized how much these simple things would to me until it was no longer an option.
I never thought I’d shed a tear over losing an overpriced big box store, but it did make me a little sad. The closure of Toys R Us represents a change in how we are as a society.
It took away a piece of my childhood and it took something from my kids.
It also took something from future generations.
The internet has made things easier for us and it’s made things cheaper, but there are some things the internet can’t do. As silly as it may sound, shopping with your children is one of them.
There is something to be said for seeing the look on your child’s face when you they’re dragging you toward the toy they’d dreamed of.
“LOOK AT THIS!”
Maybe I’m just overly nostalgic or maybe I’m just not trendy enough to jump on the internet shopping bandwagon, but I always liked going to a store to physically hold a package or look at things.
There was also the feeling of having a gift card in hand after Christmas or a birthday. You would have thought the card was on fire as it was burning a hole in your pocket just waiting to be spent.
“Dad, we HAVE to go to the store RIGHT NOW!”
There was such a sense of pride knowing you picked out the item, carried it the register then paid for it all by yourself. That was HUGE for a little kid. Unfortunately, kids in the future may never know this feeling.
As my kids and I walked around the store for the last time on the day they closed, it was bittersweet. The shelves were empty, but the store was packed full of people.
I realized there many other people just like us.
As we walked out, I told my kids to look around and remember that moment. Surprisingly, they knew what I meant because they felt what I felt.
As we got in the car, the reality set in. Toys R Us was no more.
Note: Toys R Us filed for bankruptcy in the United States on September 18th, 2017. The store closed it’s doors for the last time on June 29, 2018.
Written by Marty Augustine