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Main | Words of Remembrance: my mother, Elizabeth Chin »
Sunday
Mar182018
The end of an era

Thoughts on the Closing of Toys R Us

Children from toddler age to sub-teens run in and out of the automatic double doors. Inside the store, customers queue up at multi checkout lanes to pay for their lucky finds. That was then, this is now.

Then was about 1984 when Masters of the Universe, Star Wars and GI Joe figurines (early versions) were scalding hot, when our two older sons were seven and eight, when acquiring the latest figures from popular junior action series right after their release into the market was for them a big deal worth showing off and bragging to their peers. Like an indulging, dedicated mom who would go to all lengths in support of her children's grand mission, I had driven far and wide to as many Toys R Us and Kmart stores as I could within a range of over twenty miles in Chicagoland, the more remote suburbs the better, for the chance of spotting that latest figure of a character that had just hit the shelf for the first time. And voila! The joy of accomplishment, the triumph of success every time I marched into the house with my loot! Not only did kids like showing off their highly coveted items to their friends, their moms bragged too to other competitive moms.

"I found Buzz-Off!" I announced to a co-worker mom of mine the day after I hunted down that latest bee-like He-Man series figure.

"Where?" She sounded envious.

"At the Toys R Us in Bolingbroke. It was the seventh store I called, and we drove twenty-two miles to the store when they said they had just received a few. I got the last one," I said, trying to sound low-key and apologetic.

I was pretty sure if we had a daughter, I would be fighting for the latest of Cabbage Patch Kids. Then was a time when entering a Toys R Us store was for kids like losing themselves in Paradise, where they wouldn't mind being lost forever. 

 

Now is 2018. This weekend of March 17-18, kids and parents flog to Toys R Us stores, loot bags and all, kids emptying their piggy banks and parents Christmas shopping well ahead of the season. Excited voices ring out from the labyrinth of aisles. The lines are long at checkouts. Our sons and wives have brought their kids to the neighborhood Toys R Us, on their treasure hunt. Our grandkids are elated with this Christmas in March, not caring if this may well be their last journey to Toys R Us, that the company with which their fathers grew up is singing its swan song, and tomorrow (though not in the literal sense, as the stores will probably be kept open for another couple of months) it will be no more. As well, many adults don't care if the whole company is closing. At least they will get their bargains before it does. Rip it to the bare bones for those fantastic deals!

We have entered a new age of speed and convenience, efficiency and advancements in the sciences for the betterment of life, an age when dissemination of information has taken on the acceleration, extent and thoroughness that were unimaginable over thirty years ago. We are in an age when robots replace humans in certain functions, though thankfully not in all. Some things still require human intervention and the human touch. Progress is a fact of life, necessary for human survival, as long as what is natural and wholesome is not altered and abused. 

 

As the Chinese saying goes, "There is no endless banquet under the heavens." Toys R Us which has delighted children of all ages for some seventy years has seen its best of days, but is finally shutting down. What is beautiful in life is not only in the moment, but more lastingly in its remembrance.                                                                

 

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