Without Toys 'R' Us, 30K jobs, ripples will be felt

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While there's no word on when closings could begin, the company says its gift cards will be honored for at least 30 days. According to a report in the Washington Post, company officials have told store employees that the locations will not be closed all at once but would occur over time. That deal also could include as many as 400 USA stores.

We will miss this iconic toy emporium, now rendered obsolete by online retailers and big box stores like Target and Walmart.

That also includes gift cards for Babies-R-Us. In the 1990s, it was the biggest toy seller in the United States, expanding rapidly as it pushed out smaller chains. The company said it has more than 100,000 creditors, the largest of which are Bank of NY (owed $208 million), Mattel ($136 million) and Hasbro ($59 million).

What did Toys "R" Us mean to you? A spokesman for Empire Outlets said nothing has changed with its lease agreement between the developer, BFC Partners, and Toys R Us. There have been reports that the company had stopped paying suppliers some of whom are the biggest toy makers in the country.

It's true, online shopping didn't help matters, but the struggles of Toys "R" Us predate the boom in online shopping. Both have posted lackluster financial results of late, and there was talk a year ago about the possibility of a merger between them. The company was created as a result of an organized roll-up strategy, of several smaller toy companies including: The Bridge Direct, Tech 4 Kids, K'NEX, Uncle Milton and Good Stuff. Closing sales already have begun at 144 stores - including six in the Chicago area - that Toys R Us earlier this year made a decision to shut down.

"We look forward to providing more and more Canadian families from coast to coast with convenient access to the best selection of specialty toys in a fun and friendly atmosphere", added Mr. Levy.

Even with vacancies, some properties are still "viable commercial real estate", Ed Reardon, an analyst at Deutsche Bank AG, wrote in a note to clients. With such debt levels, Toys R Us did not have the financial flexibility to invest in its business.

Thankfully, the company says it plans to close stores over time as opposed to all at once.

Local shoppers reacted with a mix of sad sentimentality and resigned indifference at Toys R Us' announcement it will likely close most or all of its USA stores.

Kmart, owned by Sears Holdings, is at high risk of closing and faces enormous competition from Walmart, Amazon, and other discount retailers. Neighboring businesses we spoke with aren't sure what effect if any the store closures will have on their businesses.

But even struggling retailer JCPenney is making a bigger bet on toys lately, opening up specialty shops past year for toys made by Hasbro, Mattel, Lego and other leading brands.

CEO David Brandon told employees Wednesday the company's plan is to liquidate all of its US stores, according to an audio recording of the meeting obtained by The Associated Press.

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