If you are a ‘90s baby, you probably already know how hard it was to watch the generation below you start ignoring your favorite childhood toys like Beanie Babies, Tamagotchi and Pokemon cards. But what hurts even more is seeing that Toys R Us, the store that sold every possible toy you could ever dream of, is closing down.
“I remember every year, my grandma would take me to Toys R Us and that was my birthday present. I looked forward to it every year, it was the best part of my birthday,” said Zach Tate, a freshman from Savannah majoring in computer systems engineering.
Toys R Us actually filed for bankruptcy back in September of 2017, with $5 billion dollars in debt. The company finally decided to close down the remaining stores on March 14 2018, after considering the rough losses taken during the holiday season.
While some people may be disappointed, the explanation for their closing appears to be pretty obvious for most people. With the growth of the e-commerce world and companies like Amazon, it only makes sense for people to gravitate towards the more convenient options. Americans’ lives are just getting busier and busier with each generation, and while spending hours in a toy store may be fun, it’s just simply not the most efficient option anymore.
“I’m sad about it, but at the same time I’m not really surprised that it happened. I honestly thought that it would happen a lot sooner than now,” said Cameron Falk, a freshman from Marietta studying finance and international business.
But it’s not just the e-commerce world that is closing down ‘90s babies’ favorite store – the growth of major supermarkets like Walmart and Target also play a role. For busy parents who have multiple errands to get done in just one day, it doesn’t make much sense for them to make a separate trip to somewhere like Toys R Us if getting a toy is just one thing on their checklist. Rather, it would be more productive to shop somewhere like Walmart or Target where you can get groceries, toiletries and toys in just one trip. But while Walmart may offer more convenience, that doesn’t mean it replaces the childlike wonder kids felt when they walked into Toys R Us.
“It just seems like the happiest place on earth, because there’s nothing in there but stuff you want to play with. That’s pretty magical honestly,” Falk said.
The closing of Toys R Us also seems to be a reflection of the differences between two generations. In comparison to the childhood that millennials experienced, the childhood of the generation below them is being shaped more and more around technology like iPhones and iPads, according to The Atlantic. With the instant availability of apps and the internet, a lot of kids with iPhones will opt out of the pleasure of physical toys in exchange for games on their phones. Furthermore, top toy companies like Lego, Hasbro and Mattel have reported a decline in sales of their major toy products like American Girl Dolls and “Star Wars” merchandise.
“Growing up, I didn’t have a phone until middle school. But now companies are making phones that are catered toward the younger kids,” Tate said.
While changes in how children spend their time is definitely noticeable, it does not necessarily imply anything bad, just that our society is moving in a different direction. At the end of the day, there is no technology or supermarket that can take the place of Toys R Us memories.
“Toys R Us was just non-stop fun once you stepped in the door. It was almost like a giant playground,” Falk said.