So opens one of history's most iconic advertising jingles, a line meant to grab the attention of any child within earshot in an effort to promote one of the most successful chains of toy stores ever to have existed. For years, Toys 'R Us has reigned supreme in the world of retail, a brand having outlasted similarly-themed lines such as FAO Schwartz and K*B Toys-sadly, due to a surge in online sales through sites like Amazon and the continued dominance of retailers such as Walmart & Target, Toys 'R Us now stands poised to join its failed brothers as the company concludes a mass liquidation following a sluggish holiday season and bankruptcy filing that, sadly, was unable to save Toys 'R Us from complete destruction.
Like many children of the 1970s and '80s, Toys 'R Us, with its unquestionably adorable mascot Geoffrey the Giraffe overseeing the show, was an important cornerstone of my young life. Living in close proximity to a location in Brookfield, Wisconsin, I frequently found myself gracing the hallowed aisles of the toy giant several times throughout the year, especially with its convenient placement across the parking lot from the Brookfield Square mall. I can still recall many a visit to Brookfield Square, gazing longingly at the Toys 'R Us seemingly just a handful of steps away from the mall, wondering if my parents would decide to make the extra trip over to a place that was, for all intents and purposes, Kid Heaven-sometimes we would, and sometimes not. The times that we did, however, found myself overcome with a feeling of sheer awe the moment we stepped inside-it almost didn't seem like a place such as this should exist. When I say that Toys 'R Us had everything, I can't begin to stress the importance of that word.
As a childhood Ghostbusters fanatic, every possible item devoted to the four intrepid parapsychologists could be found inside a Toys 'R Us. The video game aisle seemed endless, with more product than I ever imagined laid out before my youthful eyes and display gaming consoles on which the public could try the latest Mario sequel. Power Wheels as far as the eye could see, action figures based on my favorite shows, more Hot Wheels and Matchbox vehicles than one previously thought existed on this pale blue dot-when I said everything, I meant it.
As time went by, many an item was obtained by yours truly from Toys 'R Us-money was saved so I could purchase an official Home Alone 2 Talkboy, a coupon from McDonald's was happily redeemed so as to save a few dollars on M.C. Kids for the NES, the book department yielded my first copy of Maniac Magee...the things Toys 'R Us provided for me, whether on purpose, through coincidence or some other happenstance, became memories that shaped cornerstones of my days growing up. Not far from Toys 'R Us sometimes found a Kids 'R Us occupying retail space-less a toy store and solely a destination for children's clothing, a trip to Kids 'R Us was both the greatest trick pulled on unsuspecting young visitors and, at the end of the day, an underrated experience overall. Kids expecting something akin to Kids 'R Us' big brother would undoubtedly find themselves disappointed at the sight of, say, countless Teddy Ruxpin-branded jumpers, though it wasn't uncommon to find alongside aisles of corduroy overalls situated proprietary skill games, fun house mirrors, or a commemorative box of goodies given out at the cash register periodically throughout the year. There's nothing more than needs to be said about these boxes-they're the greatest thing I've ever seen.
However, like any teenager aging into adulthood, my visits to Toys 'R Us became less frequent, to the point where it became pure luck if I happened to find my way inside one even once a year. That all changed, however, upon the birth of my first child-suddenly, Toys 'R Us returned with a vengeance, in addition to subsidiary Babies 'R Us, where many a pleasant afternoon was spent obtaining items in preparation for our daughter's birth, as well as our son's arrival several years following. Before long, gifts in the form of a 1st birthday toy piano, Equestria Girls dolls and the like were purchased from our nearest Toys 'R Us over the years, and you'd better believe that I myself may have dropped very clear hints during the 2016 holiday season that a remote controlled Ecto-1 straight from the clearance bin should probably find its way under my Christmas tree.
I thank my mother-in-law for that one.
When it was announced that Toys 'R Us would be ceasing all operations in the United States, with the closure of its global business sure to follow, I immediately felt a slew of emotions, ranging from disbelief to complete sadness-these stores always felt like the reassuring presence of an old, comforting friend, and to see it completely vanish in a rather short span of time remains a bitter pill to swallow. Though I consider myself thankful that my daughter, now six, was able to experience Toys 'R Us in all its glory, my two-year old son will likely never recall what it was like to visit this incredible retail giant.
Before long, Toys 'R Us will undoubtedly become something of legend, or at least here's hoping. I know I, for one, will forever cherish the memories this wonderful store gave me-it wouldn't be a childhood without Toys 'R Us. As years turn to decades, as youth gives way to age, and as I myself continue grow older, I know I'll forever remain a faithful Toys 'R Us kid.
"How lucky am I to have had something that makes saying goodbye so hard. " - Winnie the Pooh (A.A. Milne)