TOYS 'R' NOT US
We are all children at heart. I find people who say stuff like, "You're too old for that" or "You need to grow up" very dull people. To be an adult and never experience the fun of being a child once you become one is, to me, a very sad and jaded way of looking at and living your life.
That's why I have no problem walking into a toy store. I have no problem with having teddies, Hello Kitty stuff (I'm a Hello Kitty addict), even my study wallpaper has Hello Kitty, or having jigsaws, board games, console games, etc. As long as you know when it is appropriate to act like a child and when it is not, it's absolutely fine.
Which brings us on to the demise of Toys 'R' Us. I wish I could say something good about this shop. Unfortunately, I can't. I used to be quite happy with them. I've bought many things from them, mainly Lego and Mario stuff. But that's only because I had never been to a different store.
Then one day I did. I walked into Hamley's in London. I also went in to Lego. But we'll leave Lego alone for the moment as this is more about toys in general. However, I will say only this about them: if regional shops worked the way their London store in Leicester square does, they would be a hell of a lot more fun to visit. And please return to selling individual bricks rather than already designed sets. People use Lego to fuel their imagination. I don't want to build something just by copying a design - that's boring!
Anyway back to Toys 'R' Us: The moment I went in to Hamley's, I realised how awful Toys 'R' Us really was. Even Smyths which is slightly better is not that great. People are saying it's the fault of the internet. That I'm afraid, is only one reason. Yes, the internet has been a point of contention in regard to sales and I agree that online shopping hasn't helped. but if that was the only thing, I think Toys R Us may have survived longer.
My experience in Toys 'R' Us the other day (hey, they were having a sale and I am only human, gimme a break!) is one good example of why they've failed miserably. I went in there and couldn't find the console game (Mario Odyssey, if you're interested) I was after. so I went to an assistant who kindly told me if I went to customer service, they would check if there was one in the stock room. Very helpful, I thought. So far, so good. I did as she suggested. The manager was there and I told him what the other girl had said. His reply in the most arrogant, obnoxious voice and manner possible was, "I don't have to go and look for it. We haven't got it!" I asked, quite reasonably, how he knows they haven't got it if he doesn't look. He said, "I'm not going! I said we haven't got it". His tone sounded rather threatening. I backed off. The weird thing is, the checkout girl, when we paid for our other stuff, said, "God, I hate it when people do that! I'll go look for you". She did. The manager was right that they hadn't got what I was after, but even the cashier agreed that the manager should have moved his butt and gone to at least look for me.
He was nasty and assumed that as he was the manager he was not obligated to get off his butt. Don suggested he may not care because he would be out of a job soon, but this logic, although sensible, is flawed. I've known people in shops that aren't closing do that too. It just a whole, "I don't give a f**k"attitude that a lot of retail stores seem to have these days.
So here are the reasons why I hate Toys 'R' Us.
You walk in (and even when they were new it happened) and they are virtually empty, even on a weekend. There are no staff to be found and the place is virtully silent except for some tinny music that you'd rather they switched off anyway. There is nothing you would associate with toy stores: no children laughing, no staff showing you how toys work, no toys for you to pick up and try out. When you finally do find a member of staff, they don't even want to give you the time of day. They make no effort to help you. If you ask them if they have something, as I've previously said, they resort to the old and lazy cliche of, "If it's not on the shelf, we haven't got one!" Translation: "I'm too lazy to give a crap!". Oh and even when their stuff is on sale, it's still over priced and their stock levels are appalling! Toys 'R' Us, to be blunt, is DULL.
I walked into Hamley's and their shop was the exact opposite. You felt happy as soon as you walked in. There was no music, mainly because the noise in there would have drowned it out anyway. It was noisy, it was lively, the staff were smiling and laughing and even playing with the gadgets. There were toys lying all over the place for you to play with (Don aimed (forgive me) straight for the Nerf targets!). Their were children laughing, singing and enjoying themselves and there were us bigger kids enjoying the games as well. There were demos. One woman demonstrated a sticker-maker box so well that I bought one (I'm sticker obsessive too). The atmosphere here couldn't have been a more amazing contrast. It was a wonderful place, and I didn't want to leave. The same couldn't be said of Toys 'R' Us where you are bored after ten minutes.
So, is the internet to blame? Yes, but not altogether. The company has actually been the executor of their own failure by being incompetent and not caring one bit for their customer base, young or old.
There is one thing that bugs me. I get heartly peeved off with people who say, "Ah, what a shame (name store here) is closing down! They were really good!". Then you ask them, "When was the last time you walked into one?" Either they haven't, or it was so long ago they don't remember. Really irritates me.
I think there is a lesson here for Toys 'R' Us. If you don't keep up with demand, move with the times, or give a crap about your customers, you will end up on the scrap heap. Serves you right!
RIP Toys 'R' Us - You will not be missed. Not by me anyway.
"There's no point in being an adult if you can't be childish sometimes!" ~ Tom Baker