Toys ‘R’ Not Us

March 23, 2018   ·   0 Comments

By Jasen Obermeyer

The presence of online shopping and entertainment technology continues to grow, seeing more brick and mortar stores crumble, implode, or torn down.

Toys R Us is the next casualty.

Though it’s not the Canadian stores, but rather America’s.

The recent announcement of the closure isn’t really a concern for us, as the nearly 70 stores nationwide are doing well, according to an article in the Toronto Star. The Canadian stores in our country were described as being run “efficiently” and having “good leadership.” Certainly that’s a plus for us.

But south of the border, it was announced that after 70 years in the business, all U.S. stores – 800 – were being sold off. However, buyers have expressed interested in purchasing a small number of stores, with the company working to keep 200 stores open to merge with Canada’s.

Still, it’s just another iconic, historical store that’s going to become part of history.

It seems that online shopping continues to take over these brick and mortar companies. After all, they offer an endless amount of product, some so rare that stores don’t have them. Not only that, but it’s cheaper, and the best part (for some) is that you just fiddle around on your keyboard, and your desired item is delivered to your front door, all from the comfort and safety of your home.

Online shopping is (somewhat) easier; you don’t need to plan or set time aside to go somewhere, you don’t have to spend the money on gas to drive, and you don’t have to deal with those annoying people in the stores.

I do shop online at times, but really, I don’t see the big deal.

Okay, I have gotten some great deals and found items I would almost never find in a retail store, at least not after painstakingly physically looking for them. But I just prefer actually holding that item, seeing it, knowing what I’m paying for.

Especially when it comes to a used item, I really don’t like buying them online, because there’s always that uncertainty that you’re getting cheated out, robbed. To see what I’m getting always reassures me, and once I purchase it, I have it right away, instead of buying it, waiting a couple days or even a few weeks for it to arrive.

I believe online isn’t the only killer in this situation. Its partner in crime is entertainment technology.

I have written several columns either entirely about, or touch upon, my thoughts on today’s kids and their relationship with technology. My opinion has not changed; I’m still against all this technology taking over a child’s life.

iPads, cellphones, portable gaming systems, it seems that these are the toys of children today. I could be wrong – and I hope I am – but it seems kids don’t care to play with a physical toy, like it’s too demanding.

Toys allow for creativity, imagination. Technology just gives it to you, with almost no ways of expanding it, just spoon-feeding it.

Lego is probably the best example of a creative toy. It’s designed to never be permanent; build something, anything, and then break it apart and create something new. The world is your oyster in Lego land.

When I was little, I would mix my toys with others; construction vehicles, army men, dinosaurs, Lego, almost anything I would mix and match, and I loved it. That creativity allowed my imagination to run free, not to be held down by devices meant to make our lives “easier” by controlling us.

I still have toys, mostly ones that represent my childhood, some of my favourite ones. And the best part about them? The quality of them is actually good, and they last! A lot of my toys aren’t made purely from plastic, and the ones that are, it’s some very good quality plastic.

My army men for example, they’re made of plastic, but the newer ones I’ve received recently are not the best. The ones I got when I was little had detail; you can see the faces of the soldiers clearly, they don’t feel like they’re going to break apart in my hands.

Toy tractors and other vehicles, made of metal, but the newer ones you see are just plastic. My parents were lucky; the toys they had were of good quality (like my father’s corgi toys) and were affordable.

I get supply and demand; my parents’ childhood was back in the 1960’s. Over 60 years later the world has changed and grown.

But now, when I go to Toys R Us, I see what’s being sold and it’s almost all plastic, and sure, a fairly good quality, but the prices don’t justify the product. Why is that we’re paying more for less?

Maybe exterior factors are not to solely blame for the demise of a beloved toy company.

Our stores need to tread carefully; otherwise they’ll end up in the same boat as our neighbour.

Childhood is the best time of life, so why should the quality of it be stifled and cheap?

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