I’m feeling kind of melancholy about the closing of Toys R Us stores. It’s been a long time since I walked those aisles, but thinking about all of those colorful packages stacked high on shelves brings a smile to my face. My kids are much too old for Toys R Us. I haven’t had a need to shop there for years, so why am I feeling wistful about its closing? It’s the memories.
Toys R Us served as an indoor playground, an imagination station, and an awesome way to kill a rainy afternoon when my kids were little. We would load up in the car with the hope of an adventure. Sometimes, my kids brought birthday money or hard earned cash for chores along. Other times, they were adding to wish lists for Christmas. There were visits that were simply for browsing. And, of course, there were trips that involved flat out begging for toys.
I don’t remember any major meltdowns. I do remember a lot of fun. My son played with the train table alongside kids that he just met as they shared Thomas and Percy on the track. My daughters found endless stuffed animals to cuddle, many of those are still in baskets in their rooms. All of the kids hopped on bikes or scooters to cruise around the vehicle section of the store. We purchased board games to play as a family. We found art supplies that were used for school projects and homemade cards. There wasn’t a part of the stores that we skipped.
We would start at the front of the store and wind our way through every aisle, stopping to look closer at those Barbie clothes or Lego sets. We sat on the floor and read books. We bought bath toys and bike helmets. We found the perfect birthday gifts for friends and the best puzzles to connect on the dining room table. Quite simply, we made memories, right there in the Toys R Us aisles.
I feel sorry for the kids and parents who won’t have these experiences. There are still toy aisles in others stores. That’s true, but it’s not just for kids to experience toys. Those stores are about shopping for everything we need from toilet paper to laundry soap. Those stores are about making life easier in one quick stop. It’s not the same as leisurely strolling through a toy wonderland, watching your kids’ eyes light up when they see that new action figure or Barbie house or pogo stick.
There was something magical about those afternoons spent in Toys R Us. I’m confident that my kids have the same soft spot when they think about Toys R US. We always got more than just toys on our visits. We gained valuable family experiences. It’s proof that memories can be made anywhere, even in the aisles of Toys R Us.