Toys R Us Bankruptcy Part of ‘Retail Apocalypse’

News reports say national toy retailer Toys R Us filed for bankruptcy Monday and a local blogger who watches retail industry says the year has had a record number of closings of stores across the country.

Cheryl Kane Heimlich, who writes the Store Reporter blog, said, “People are calling this a retail apocalypse. This is the year when things are falling apart in the industry.”

Toys R Us, which has about 255 stores in the United States and Canada, has filed for Chapter 11 protection, which allows the company to remain in business, subject to oversight by a court. The U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Virginia in Richmond is overseeing the Toys R Us bankruptcy.

A news release on the Toys R Us website says the “vast majority” of its 1,600 stores worldwide remain profitable.

Toys R Us has a location at 600 N. Frederick Ave., Gaithersburg, and a Toys R Us Express at Clarksburg Premium Outlets.

At stores like Macy’s and Nordstrom, half the people there are returning goods they bought online instead of buying goods from the store, Heimlich said.

Many independent toy stores are surviving because they add value to the shopping experience. The independent store knows its inventory and can suggest a gift for a 7-year-old, for example, she said. “Those stores are still doing OK.”

Or if consumers are just looking for a birthday gift, they can run in a Target or Walmart and take care of other errands as well, she said. Or if they’re interested in price or selection, they can shop online.

“Toys R Us, they’re not winning in any category,” she said.

She noted the irony that Toys R Us put a lot of independent toy stores out of business and now they’re struggling — a similar story to what happened to chain bookstores and record stores that put smaller independent retailers out of business and then couldn’t compete against the prices and selection of internet-based retailers.


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Douglas Tallman

About Douglas Tallman

Reporter with 35 years experience throughout Maryland. Reach me at or via Twitter at @MCM-Doug


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