My Life in British Toy Shops

Part 2

Toys R Us

Sorry, The Entertainer, you have your merits, but today’s featured toy shop wipes the floor twice over you. Don’t really know if that expression works but basically I am trying to say I think Toys R Us is the better of the two, easily.

And for many, the best toy shop chain. The most memorable. The most nostalgic. And, I know before it’s pointed out, Toys R Us is not a British-born shop. But I am not featuring necessarily British stores, but stores in Britain that have impacted me and so therefore Toys R Us has to be included.

Yes, it’s the store with the catchy song and friendly giraffe and of course, that Christmas advert. A magical, cartoony Christmas advert that stayed in people’s minds. As soon as that plays..transported, and we knew the Christmas season had begun. And in fairness, they did have more toys under one roof; these were always very big stores, and as a kid, the number of toys was just breathtaking. Because of their size, they were able to sell huge toys and bikes too. You would definitely find all the latest game consoles, as well as plenty on show to try out.

Toys R Us was never on the high street If you wanted one (as the song tells us) you’d find it off a motorway or something, they were worth traveling for basically was the point behind their location.

Now the two main Toys R Us branches that I visited were a smaller one (so actually they were not always huge) in Ilford and the one I mostly went to, a bigger one in Thurrock (the Lakeside retail area). I think as a kid my parents may have taken me to another one but I can’t remember where it was, but feel like it was when on the way to Norfolk.

But it’s the Lakeside one I remember most, and was able to continue to visit there for collectibles and video games as an adult until they all sadly closed down. Where I currently live in Swindon a Toys R Us building long shut down remained until a few months ago when it became a Go Outside. I have heard a rumor about Toys R Us returning…

Of course, the other notable thing about this brand was its logo. I seem to remember in my childhood adults pointed out how it was bad grammar and taught kids the wrong way to spell…I think they missed the point.

They may not have always had the cheapest prices, but they had some great sales from time to time. I can’t really remember the customer service, but I don’t remember any issues, I think it was generally fine. If you are wondering about the history, Toys R Us has roots dating back to April 1948 when Charles P Lazarus founded a baby-furniture retailer which was named Children’s Bargaintown in Washington, DC. This business would go through several acquisitions and evolutions before becoming the Toys R Us many of you will be so familiar with.

The closest thing to a Toys R Us in the UK is Smyths and that is the toy shop I’ll be looking at next. What are your memories of Toys R Us?

*Update*

It seems they are back…but just in online form for the moment. As they say, you never know…. Also, in America chains of Macys contain Toys R Us sections.

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