It’s the end of an era as Toys ‘R’ Us stores across the United States are finishing up their final shifts, preparing to close their stores for good on Friday night, but an employee at the Raleigh, North Carolina, location shared that their store wasn’t going to be open Friday, reports WFLA. Instead, the staff is boxing up the few toys left on the shelves after someone anonymously purchased $1 million worth of their remaining stock so they could donate them to local children. It’s a beautiful end, at least for that store, to a chain that served as a memorable part of millions of kids’ childhoods, since Toys ‘R’ Us was one of the largest toy retailers in the country.
All 700 of the stores across the nation are closing their doors as the giant 70-year-old retailer goes out of business. Kids today won’t know the joy that other generations knew when their parents would announce, “We’re going to Toys ‘R’ Us now, want to come?” There was no happier moment in a kid’s week, month, or even year when that happened. They won’t get to be a Toys ‘R’ Us kid, the aim of every child, or so the commercial used to say. But times changed and online retailers became too much competition. The store tried to adapt, entering into a lucrative partnership with Amazon in 2000 after EToys showed up on the scene.
“The deal, one of the first of its kind, gave Amazon the exclusive rights to sell Toys ‘R’ Us products on its website. Toys ‘R’ Us paid it roughly $50 million a year, according to reports at the time. Toys ‘R’ Us had paid for exclusivity, but it didn’t get it. Amazon created a marketplace where it began selling others’ toy brands,” CNBC reported.
A lawsuit soon followed and while Amazon eventually settled for $51 million, it put the toy chain way behind the eight ball when it came to online merchandising, setting it back fiscally from which it never could recover.
But that wasn’t the only thing that set the company back. Losing track of who they were supposed to be serving, was also noted by CNBC.
“I remember when I first got there, walking into the first meeting with the executive committee thinking, ‘This is going to be interesting. Our target audience is moms with kids, and I just walked into a room of guys with ties,'” said Warren Kornblum, who worked as chief marketing officer in the late 1990s and mid-2000s.
These and other missteps by the company and its leadership led them to file bankruptcy last September. Now, on this final day, it closes its doors for good.