For those of you who haven’t heard, it was announced that big box toy store Toys R Us is shutting down and laying off thousands of employees.
To certain of us, that news hit home in a place that some of us feel guilty about. I was honestly taken aback by how sincerely sad I was to hear about it. Reading on social media that other people were feeling the same way helped me feel better; it assured me that I wasn’t the only one.
Let me be clear: I don’t work for them, so I’m not one of those unfortunate people soon to be without work, nor have I shopped there in years. I’m not losing anything with the store closing, and compared to war, shootings and whatever is going on in the White House, the end to a monument of my childhood memories doesn’t rank high on the list of real things to worry about. And it feels wrong to be down about this… but I still feel down about it.
I know we’re supposed to feel bad about feeling bad about this, right? We’re just supposed to shrug it off and go, ‘Huh? Oh well,’ and move on. Knowing that all the stuff we ever bought from Toys R Us was just frivolous novelty plastic junk that didn’t serve a purpose and was thrown away or forgotten.
Emotions are valid, even if the reasoning for them is complicated. Seeing something as ‘yours’ and feeling attached to it is a way of life. We all do it. How many of us have given a name to a car, boat or teddy bear? It’s human nature to bond with something even if that something serves no real purpose. And when that thing goes away, there’s a part of you that goes away with it.
When people jumped on social media to post sad emojis and trade stories of getting to go there as kids, they weren’t sad over a retail store closing. They were sad because a piece of their history was going away forever.
My memories of the store aren’t necessarily buying toys from there, but the idea of getting to go there, to a store filled to the brim with toys. It was a magical place where I could actually see the things I saw in catalogs and ads, and for me it was a big deal. I know you may be thinking, ‘it’s just toys, what’s the big deal?’
But think about it this way: plenty of professional athletes got their first bat or glove at Toys R Us, first bikes for future racers, some young artist got their first paint set there, Legos for future architects and chemistry sets for people who would go on to create lifesaving medicine.
Now future generations of kids won’t have that place to go and forget about how hard it really is to be a kid in the world right now, and future parents who fondly remember going there to buy their first bike or game console and want to impart that feeling to their children don’t get to.
Even though it’s the end of an era, I’m happy that I got to experience it at least a couple times and maybe I’ll try and brave the lines in the clearance sale and splurge on something I don’t really need but will enjoy having.
Thanks for the good times, Toys R Us.