As the poet once said, "Don't call it a comeback, I been here for years."
In spite of all the evidence to the contrary, Toys R Us is back. Their first new store opened last Wednesday in Paramus, New Jersey. “Toys R Us is built into the fabric of childhood and for more than 70 years has been the most trusted source for toys and play,” said their chief merchant Richard Barry in a statement. “With the return of Toys R Us stores in the U.S., we are bringing a highly engaging, experience-driven retail destination that celebrates play and deepens the connection between the world’s best toy, play and entertainment brands and customers.”
Which sounds like gobbledygook until you remember the bottom line: There may soon be a toy store near you that you can walk through. And touch stuff. And play with things.
Which may sound like gobbledygook to you if you have grown up in a world in which all of your toy purchases were made online, and the only way you could determine how fun something was to count the aggregate stars next to reviews from strangers. What if there was actually a place where you could go in and sample the wares before making that all important purchase? All those commercials with the tiny print at the bottom of the screen that reminds you that this is not the actual size or that it's not really a flying toy become academic in a place like this. A place where kids could play with toys. Where a kid can be a kid, pat pending.
Of course, this also brings back that old sadness about the neighborhood toy store. Toys R Us was responsible for all those little shops that used to be ceasing to be. Those big giraffe-festooned boxes that anchored shopping malls yanked consumers off their quiet lanes and into their parking lots. This was the place in which I found myself and friends when I really needed a Nerf gun. Or that Lego set. I went to Toys R Us on a Christmas morning to buy a new toy box for my burgeoning consumer and toy vacuum of a son.
And I remember passing by that store as it was liquidated. Even the fixtures were sold. My son, in college at the time of the bankruptcy, mused quietly about a late night raid on the front of the store to retrieve his very own backwards R. He truly was a Toys R Us kid.
And now, he can be again.