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"Piece of Shopping Americana" to Close in Joplin - KOAM TV 7

"Piece of Shopping Americana" to Close in Joplin

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Joplin, MO -

What many say is a piece of shopping Americana will soon be sealed into history.  Toys R Us officially announced today that it's shutting down its operations, closing 740 stores in the coming months.  That includes a store in Joplin.  The company has been struggling to compete with other companies that offer toys and games.

Shoppers in Joplin are wondering what went wrong for a toy store, of all places, to fail.

"When you're five-years-old, Toys R Us is a bright, magical place," says Sheri Harrington, a shopper.  "It's like Disneyland for some."

"It's kind of been the biggest toy store that I've ever grown up knowing about," says another shopper.

The company that encouraged not growing up in some ways faced an adult problem:  A financial crisis much taller than Geoffrey the Giraffe.

"When I was a kid, everybody knew the Geoffrey the Giraffe, Toys R Us, as well as they knew the McDonalds' golden arches," says Harrington.

Economists say Toys R Us had concerning amounts of debt before the rise of online shopping.  Some shoppers say sure, Toys R Us was "the" place to shop for toys....in a perfect situation.

"Unless it was a special occasion, we usually didn't go there because they were kind of expensive toys," says one shopper.

"It's a specialty store.  That's a tough line to stay competitive," says Harrington.

Some would attribute Toys R Us helping to pioneer Christmas catalogs.  The number of shoppers at the Joplin store is increasing now, not because of any upcoming holiday, but to find out when clearance deals will be rolled out.  This is how many grown-ups will say goodbye to the store that has been in Joplin since 1987, without about 30 current employees.

But the next time Sheri Harrington visits Toys R Us...

"This is the childhood store," says Harrington.

...The childhood in her will say goodbye, too.

There's no official word on exactly when stores will offer sales or officially close.  However, the company CEO told workers in the U-S they'll get paid for the next 60 days if they show up for work.  After that, all benefits and pay will be cut.

Toys R Us' statement to us:

"WAYNE, NJ – March 15, 2017 – Toys“R”Us, Inc. today announced that it has filed a motion seeking Bankruptcy Court approval to begin the process of conducting an orderly wind-down of its U.S. business and liquidation of inventory in all 735 of the Company’s U.S. stores, including stores in Puerto Rico. Toys“R”Us will provide more details about the plans for the liquidation of its U.S. stores and going out of business sales in the near term.

Toys“R”Us also announced that it is pursuing a going concern reorganization and a sale process for its Canadian and international operations in Asia and Central Europe, including Germany, Austria and Switzerland. The Company’s international operations in Australia, France, Poland, Portugal and Spain are considering their options in light of this announcement, including potential sale processes in their respective markets. The Company’s stores in all these international markets are currently open and serving customers. 

In connection with the sale process, the motion the Company filed with the Bankruptcy Court included bidding procedures for the Canadian operations. The Company also disclosed that it is engaged in discussions with certain interested parties for a transaction that could combine up to 200 of the top performing U.S. stores with its Canadian operations. While discussions continue on this potential transaction, Toys“R”Us is seeking court approval to implement the liquidation of inventory in all the U.S. stores, subject to a right to recall any stores included in the proposed Canadian transaction.

The previously announced administration of the UK business continues.

Dave Brandon, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, said, “I am very disappointed with the result, but we no longer have the financial support to continue the Company’s U.S. operations. We are therefore implementing an orderly process to shutter our U.S. operations and will pursue going concern sales or reorganizations of certain of our international businesses, while our other international businesses consider their options.”

                                                                                                                                              

Brandon continued, “There are many people and organizations who have remained in our corner every step along the way. I want to thank our extraordinary team members who helped build Toys“R”Us into a global brand. I also want to express my appreciation for my colleagues on our board who have continued to provide support to sustain the brand and our operations throughout the restructuring process. I would also like to thank our vendors who we owe a great deal of gratitude to for their decades of support. This is a profoundly sad day for us as well as the millions of kids and families who we have served for the past 70 years.”

The Company and its advisors are working to minimize the impact of the U.S. liquidation on the Canadian and other international markets. As part of these efforts, the Company is implementing a transition services arrangement for the next 60 days and is developing plans for a potential shared service function to support the international operations going forward.

Additional information regarding the Company’s restructuring process can be obtained by calling the Company’s Information Hotline, toll-free in the U.S. and Canada at (844) 794-3476, or sending an email to toysrusinfo@PrimeClerk.com. Court filings and other documents related to the court-supervised process in the U.S. are available on a separate website administered by the Company’s claims agent, Prime Clerk, at https://cases.primeclerk.com/toysrus.

Kirkland & Ellis LLP is serving as principal legal counsel to Toys“R”Us, Alvarez & Marsal is serving as restructuring advisor and Lazard is serving as financial advisor."

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