The toy store experience will soon be a thing of the past.
My childhood weeps not only for me, but for all those future generations who won’t know the wide-eyed wonder of walking through endless aisles of toy store treasures.
After 70 years in business, international toy retailer Toys R Us announced it will close all of its U.S. storefront locations, including Babies R Us.
The old adage, “Everything Must Go” rings true once again in the modern age of online shopping. Liquidation sales could happen in a matter of weeks, and stores could close in as little as two months, CNNMoney reports. An exact date has yet to be given.
Here’s what you need to know about the national closeout as the siren song of sales beckons nearer.
What to Do With a Toys R Us Gift Card
Time is running out. You need to use your Toys R Us gift cards immediately.
A company spokesperson told USA Today that Toys R Us will honor gift cards for the next 30 days only.
For a frame of reference, customers still held $17.7 million in unused gift cards when Borders shut its doors in 2011. The outstanding amount on Toys R US gift cards is unclear, but it’s certain they will be worthless in no time.
What About Babies R Us Registry and Gift Cards?
With the announcement comes concerns about the go-to store for parents-to-be.
People reported that customer and loyalty programs will only be active for the next few weeks. This includes Rewards R Us, Geoffrey’s Birthday List and the Babies R Us registry.
The retailer plans to keep the Babies R Us registry and web store for now, according to USA Today. The hope is that part of the business can be sold off as an asset, however, the outlook looks a bit bleak from here.
In addition, all Babies R Us gift cards will be valid for the next 30 days and will become useless after that.
(Update, March 23rd: The Babies R Us registry is now shutting down. All products that were in registries are being removed, and you should write them down somewhere else, or transfer them to another store)
How to Shop the Toys R Us Closing Sales
Soon, once-cluttered shelves will become a picked-over wasteland of reject toys. Many will fly off the shelf in the first day because people are lured by the promise of a bargain.
Keep your wits about you with these tips:
- Make a List Before You Go
Know what you need before you get inside the store. This eliminates impulse purchases and keeps your mind and budget focused.
- Ask Yourself: Do I Need This?
There’s nothing wrong with browsing the bargains. But be sure to mentally and financially check in with yourself and actively ask whether you need this thing — no matter how bad your inner (or actual) child might want it!
- Compare Prices
Don’t fall for discount deception. Use your smartphone to pull up prices on Google and see if the sale is actually a legit deal. Initial price cuts might not be bargains at all. If it’s a good deal on a coveted product, buy it now because it might not be there later.
- Do Some Quality Control
Inspect the object of your affection carefully. Make sure it’s not defective or malfunctioning, and that all accessories are included before you purchase it. Double-check the sizes on clothes and make sure any pairs — including shoes — match.
- Check the Warranty
Most consumer warranties are void in liquidation sales. But some manufacturer warranties might still be good. Ask if there’s an extended warranty option, especially if it is a high-priced item. If the item is sold as is, what you see is what you get.
- Remember: All Sales Are Final
There are no take-backsies with a closeout sale. You get what you get, and you don’t throw a fit. You can always regift or sell it if you don’t want it, but you really shouldn’t buy anything you don’t want or need in the first place.
- Pay With a Credit Card
This protects you if there’s no warranty or return. You can dispute the charge with the credit card company if the item is damaged or broken. Avoid using cash, checks or debit cards on any closeout item in general.
It’s not a common practice in America, but what do you have to lose? If you’re buying in bulk, there’s a chance you might finagle a better deal. Definitely try if the item has any sort of flaw or if you find it listed cheaper elsewhere.
- Buy Larger Sizes for Kids
If you’re shopping for children’s clothes, seize the sale opportunity to get clothes they will grow into. You can save these items for birthdays or Christmas, or keep them in the back of the closet until they’re needed.
- Scope Out Other Locations
Check out other locations if there’s more than one in your area. They will have different levels of inventory and might carry items the other store no longer has in stock.
- Know the Sale Schedule
Chances are stores and managers know the discounting schedule in advance. Ask at your local location and plan your trips around the schedule.
- Check Back Frequently
Be a helicopter parent — but for deals. Check in frequently as the discount brackets increase, especially if there’s an item you’re hoping will be deeply discounted. This is most effective if you live near a location and aren’t going out of your way each time.
- Prepare for Crowds
You’re not the only one on the hunt. Be prepared for droves of people sniffing out deals. Don’t let the mob mentality force you into a purchase you don’t need. Have your list, budget and stay focused.
Defeat is bittersweet, and I hate that Geoffrey the giraffe will become as irrelevant as Spuds MacKenzie, but a deal is an opportunity to save, no matter how you spin it.