The news of Toys R Us closing down really hit me yesterday, as Sharon and I took a last walk through our local store before the liquidation signs erupt like small pox down every aisle. My earliest memories of the store involve the location in Newport News, Virginia. I remember walking in and there would be this huge wall and multiple rows of shopping carts that greeted you as you entered. Once you turned the corner it was like looking out over the ocean and trying to fathom seeing its end. Shelves were packed full to bursting with Star Wars and G.I. Joe and He-Man figures that would be the featured cast in epic narratives. Those same pristine toys would end up caked in mud, water logged in the bath tub, and faded by their time spent outdoors, but for that moment in the store they were more than just mass produced bits of plastic: they were gateways to my imagination.
I remember when the original Nintendo system came out and my brother and I got one that Christmas. We'd fight over who got to play and for how long and then when it was time to get a new game we'd fight about that until some sort of compromise was reached. Then on the fateful day we'd head to Toys R Us and their aisle that was just pictures of box art and little paper slips beneath it that indicated how many were left in stock. We'd hope and pray the entire car trip that there would be at least one slip left for the game we wanted, because leaving empty handed was not an option. Sometimes you got lucky, sometimes we ended up with a second choice, and sometimes we left with nothing but a promise we'd try again the next week. No matter how much older I get, I've still never developed a good sense of patience, but I am way less likely to throw a tantrum.
I'll certainly miss it and I'll always be thankful for how much of a role it had in shaping my life.