SUNNVALE, Calif. (KTVU) - It’s the end of an era. In just days, all Toys R Us stores across the country will be closed for good. Experts say billions in debt and the advent of on-line shopping ultimately cost this decades-old chain it’s marketplace.
For a few fleeting minutes Wednesday, there was hope and happiness for some children at Toys R Us stores around the Bay. Parents made a last gasp attempt to grasp anything from paltry shelves mostly picked bare.
“It was our favorite store because we could find everything in here, every time we had something to buy,” said customer Viridiana Ponce as she pushed her baby daughter in a stroller outside the Sunnyvale Toys R Us store.
The buying and selling soon stops, as all Toys R Us stores close at the end of businesses Friday, or sooner if the little that’s left inside is all gone.
“Depressing. I grew up with Toys R Us. And all my kids had toys from here,” said customer Joann Scott, who shopped at stores from Mountain View to Sunnyvale.
For 70 years, this chain was the standard for putting a smile on a child’s face. Generations came in as children, and eventually brought their kids here, and to companion store Babies R Us. But billions in debt, a lack of investment in the shopping experience, and the advent of on-line shopping ultimately sank the chain.
“I think we’re focusing on the now, and what’s going to happen to the children,” said six-year employee Doris Smith.
She and other long-time employees are left without jobs or severance. But many are not thinking of themselves, they’re worried about families that have been coming through the doors for decades.
“It’s more than a job for us. Because we stayed till the end. We could have gone to look for jobs, but we wanted to see this through,” said employee Angie Newson.
With the last major U.S. toy chain soon a memory, customers say they’ll get with the times and go on-line, even though they don’t want to.
“…Cause when we order them on-line, they come in and they’re terrible. Terrible. ‘Where are the kids going to be happy now? You know, to walk into?,’” asked customer Kathy Arellanes, as she left with her children in tow.
That questions echoes like the familiar theme song from commercials. And with no clear answer, some people will spend Summer worrying about the far off holiday season.
“They’re so used to having Christmas, and with the store closing, ‘what are they going to say about Santa?,’” asked employee Gretchen Ferguson.
Perhaps only Santa’s Christmas magic will sooth the wound left by this chain store’s closing.