Game over for multiple Toys R Us stores in Missouri
COLUMBIA - Toys R Us is closing the doors of more than 180 stores nationwide, including multiple locations in Missouri, starting in February.
Stores in Columbia, Chesterfield, Cape Girardeau and St. Louis will be shut down.
"You look back and that nostalgia and getting the catalog and going through it and going to Toys R Us was always a special treat around the holiday time," Columbia Chamber of Commerce President Matt McCormick said. "It was always a fond memory."
The toy store first opened in the summer of 1957. The store is known for its wide variety of toys for kids of all ages and family-friendly environment.
"It was fun, you came in and they had everything you'd ever want," shopper Kim Ross said.
But more than six decades later, the chain is struggling to stay afloat.
In Sept. 2017, Toys R Us filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. At the time, the chain said it wasn't planning to close any stores and wanted to open more, smaller locations.
But after a relatively unsuccessful holiday season, Toys R Us changed its strategy and will close stores once the decision is finalized in court.
"The actions we are taking are necessary to give us the best chance to emerge from our bankruptcy proceedings as a more viable and competitive company," CEO Dave Brandon said in a message to customers posted on the company's website.
Brandon's message also detailed why the company made its decision and how customers will be affected.
This isn't the first big box company to close its doors in Columbia. Macy's closed its Columbia location in the fall of 2015 because of low store sales.
"It's more of a national phenomena that's going on," McCormick said. "Of course we never like to see that because it's employees' livelihood at risk, but the good thing is that the economy is really good here in Columbia."
Toys R Us said it struggled to compete with all-inclusive stores like Walmart and Target that have started breaking into the toy market.
Despite the national shift to all-inclusive shopping, some Missourians said they loved the simplicity of a good old fashioned toy store.
"They have the largest selection of most toys, they had weekend activities, it is a great family store," shopper Melissa said. "This is awful, especially because it's the only specialized toy store in Columbia."