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Opinion: Toys “R” Us struggled to keep up with the times

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Raymond Strawn III

     I was sad hearing the news about Toys “R” Us closing down. I remember when I was a kid and how exciting it was to enter the store. I was always amazed at all the cool toys they had many of which I had never seen in other stores. It was always a great day going to Toys “R” Us. As a parent however, that same awe and experience weren’t there with my children. Yes, they were excited to spend their holiday gift money to buy toys, but a few times we went to the store, they didn’t see anything they liked.

    That experience I had as a kid there was gone. When I read an article from the Times Union about how the retailer struggled to compete with Amazon and Walmart, I didn’t completely agree with that. Some of Toys “R” Us struggles were internal too. They failed to capture that atmosphere of excitement to this generation of children. They are closing down because they failed to make their stores appealing to children.

    When I was a first-time parent living in Albany, I went to Toys “R” Us for birthday toys and holiday gifts because that was the place I loved as a kid. As my children started growing older and they started showing me the toys they wanted, I noticed that the store didn’t sell those toys. This made me shop elsewhere.

    I went on the Toys “R” Us website recently and looked for gifts for my children’s birthdays. My youngest daughter is a Dallas Cowboys fan (she followed her mother with that one). I searched “Dallas Cowboys toy” and only three selections showed up. I bought about half a dozen of small Dallas Cowboys toys from Newegg, a store more known for electronics and computers.

   The other big item my daughters love is “squishies.” A quick search on Toys “R” Us brought up eight selections. Five of the selections were out of stock. Of course, I am going to go to Amazon, where I did the same search and had over 20,000 results. Maybe if Toys “R” Us had a better selection online, they would not be struggling and filing for bankruptcy.

   It comes down to supply and demand. Toys “R” Us ignored the demand for toys children wanted and didn’t supply enough of the toys the children wanted. I’m not sure why. Maybe they made deals and investments with toy companies and they didn’t work out. Maybe their polls, surveys, and research they did were inaccurate. Either way, Toys “R” Us failed to capture customers because of their limited supply of toys that children want.

   As a kid, I never went to the store and left empty-handed. In fact, I remember times where I wanted dozens of toys, but was only limited to one and spending half an hour changing my mind, debating on which toy to pick. Like I mentioned before, I would take five children inside Toys “R” Us and after about half an hour, all five would tell me they didn’t want anything. Amazon and Walmart did not help Toys “R” Us, but part of why they struggled was because of their limited selection and lack of understanding of what children want nowadays.

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