Thursday, January 17, 2019

Toys R Us, Melbourne, FL

Toys R Us #8740
1275 W. New Haven Avenue, Melbourne, FL

     Toys Were Us...

     This Toys R Us store opened in 1990, and other than some updated signage in the early 2000s, hasn’t changed a whole lot over the years. This store began liquidating with the remainder of the chain on March 22, 2018, and closed sometime around June 2018.

     As Toys R Us continued the process of liquidating their remaining stores last year, many of us who are part of the retail scene on flickr and beyond were running over to our local Toys R Us stores to photograph them before they were gone forever. Beginning today on the My Florida Retail Blog is my contribution to preserving the legacy of Toys R Us, as we begin a tour of their location in Melbourne, FL, located just down the road from the Melbourne Square Mall. I rushed over here for some photos just a few days before the chain-wide liquidation events began, so we’ll get a nice, normal overview of this store, without any depressing “Going out of Business” signage all over the place. Like many of you, I have plenty of memories of going to Toys R Us with my parents when I was younger. A 40,000 square foot building containing nothing but toys is quite a wonderland when you’re 6 years old! Unfortunately, it seems we’ve come to the last generation of “Toys R Us kids”, unless someone decides to bring the Toys R Us name back from the dead. Anyway, all that aside, let’s take this post to remember all the good times we had at Toys R Us, as we begin our tour of their soon-to-be-former Melbourne location…

     🎵I Guess It's Time To Grow Up, I Can No Longer Be a Toys R Us Kid 🎶 On the exterior, this store has hardly been touched since it first opened in 1990. This store still has its original rainbow stripe exterior design, and an older version of the Toys R Us logo. In the early 2000’s, this location was co-branded with the now defunct Kids R Us chain. However, behind the logo you see on this building today, you can clearly see the labelscar from the original sign, including the outline of Geoffrey’s head above the entrance all these years later! The labelscar is actually pretty clear in this photo, and in person you can’t miss it! While the Kids R Us sign is still on the front of the building, the Kids R Us section in this store eventually evolved into a mini Babies R Us, which we will see later in this post. As PlazaACME commented, "I'm surprised the Kids R Us signage lasted this long."

     In case anyone was interested, this was actually one of two Toys R Us stores to have operated in Brevard County over the years. The other Brevard County Toys R Us store, located in Merritt Island across from the mall, opened around 1996/1997-ish and closed in 2012. A Michael’s now occupies that building today, and it is unrecognizable as a former Toys R Us.

     Walking through the entry door brings you into a small vestibule, which then brings you into this area after going through another door (I guess you can call this area “the foyer”). This foyer space directs you to the guest service counter, which you can see immediately in front of me. Just out of frame to my right is another set of doors set into the small partition wall, which takes you into the main salesfloor.

     Upon entering the main sales floor, the first department you come across is this one. This area serves as a home to seasonal items, as well as new toys. During this visit, Easter baskets and summer/outdoor toys took up this space. From where I am standing, this is looking into the building’s front right corner.

     Moving out of the main portion of the seasonal department, I took this photo of the store’s right side wall. Over here seemed to be the selection of new release toys and other popular products at the time. To the left side of this photo you can see part of the toy testing area, which is where we will move to next…

     Just beyond the entrance and the seasonal department is this little area, where kids (or anyone, I suppose) can try out new toys to see what they’re like (including a car racing set and a basketball hoop from what I can see here). I believe this is a semi-new addition to the store, as one of Toys R Us’s big things in recent years was to have a more interactive store.

     Panning away from the toy testing area we see this main aisle, where Geoffrey the Giraffe is eagerly waiting to greet us! If you keep going straight, you’ll end up in the Babies R Us part of the store. However, we’re going to turn left and take a look at some of the toys first before taking a quick around the Babies R Us section.

     While I was poking around up front, I found this little display of 90’s cartoon figurines, part of how 90's pop culture stuff seems to becoming popular once again (probably more so for the parents and older shoppers who came into Toys R Us, but maybe there are some young ones today who like this stuff!).

     This is a look down the main aisle that goes across the front of the sales floor. Party supplies and educational toys lie immediately in front of me, with the check lanes off in the distance. Even though this was just a few days before the liquidation events began, there weren’t any signs of impending closure to be seen here. The only thing I noticed that signified an impending liquidation was that the gift card rack (visible in the distance) was wiped completely empty.

     Here is another look at the front aisle, this time looking back toward the toy testing area. The first toy department after seasonal is the Lego section, which we’re about to take a look at, so be sure to have your bricks ready!

     The Lego department is located in the front of this store, close to the main entrance, and complete with its own sign. This was one of younger AFB’s favorite parts of Toys R Us (and the same still holds true for slightly older AFB too!). Random Retail (our Lego expert of the flickr retail community) agreed that this was one of his favorite parts of the store, too.

     I took this photo to capture the “Toys R Us Exclusive” emblem on the Lego set box. There were actually quite a few Toys R Us exclusive Lego sets here (as well as other “exclusive” products throughout the store), but this was the only one I photographed. As BatteryMill Retail commented, "I once had a TRU truck (variant of a Lego-brand truck set) that, obviously was an exclusive here. Shame we won't see such anymore." Random Retail expanded on this by saying, "I actually posted a picture of that Toys R Us truck during February. I had a feeling the end was coming then and needless to say I'm keeping that truck together. Walmart has been getting way more exclusive sets this year, but that is likely due to the fall of Toys R Us."

     The Lego department consisted of two aisles, with this being the other one.

     On the right side of the building is this corridor which leads to the restrooms, complete with a rather old sign. The Restrooms sign dates back to Toys R Us’s 90’s décor, and has probably been here since this store opened if I had to take a guess. While it’s neat a small piece of 90’s décor managed to survive in here all these years, it seems like the restrooms sign is a sign that Toys R Us seemed to frequently neglect to update. BatteryMill Retail found the same sign at his local Toys R Us store not too long ago. Brands R Us commented, in regard to the design of the Restroom sign, "Wow that sign reminds me of something you might find at an Ames store!"

     I found the fun department! I’m not sure what’s so fun about clothes though, as that sign seems better fit for one of the toy filled parts of the store! Anyway, here we’re moving away from the toys into the store’s back right corner, where the small Babies R Us (formerly Kids R Us) department is located. In this photo we’re looking from the clothing portion of Babies R Us toward the front of the building.

     The back right corner of the store is home to more baby stuff, mostly hardline baby products like furniture and baby food. The baby clothes are located to my right, closer to the front of the building.

     The desk in the foreground was where you could go to sign up for a baby registry. The desk may have served some other purpose as well, but most of the signage and brochures on the desk were about registries, so that was at least a major part of this desk’s usage. Behind the desk you can see some aisles of toys geared toward younger children, as well as a look down the main aisle that cuts through the back of the store.

     This photo is a look across the back wall of the salesfloor, as seen from the edge of the Babies R Us “store within a store”. Along the back wall were more toys for the younger kids, as well as a small selection of clearance merchandise.

     One of the many toy aisles in the back of the store, this one containing Fisher Price Little People play sets among other things. One thing to point out is that in the rear of the store were a few aisles that had an old blue and yellow tile pattern, which over the years has been patched up in places. I don’t know what this area was originally, but it seems like it was probably part of some kind of special section back in this store’s early days.

     This is another one of the back aisles containing the patchy blue and yellow tile pattern. This aisle marked the left most boundary of this pattern, as noted by the blue perimeter at the left side of the aisle. Another one of my theories about this tile pattern was it had something to do with the long gone Kids R Us “store within a store” department, with this pattern signifying the Kids R Us portion of the store. Again, that’s just a theory.

     It’s now time to jump back up to the front of the store to see the extensive selection of board games that Toys R Us offered. Board games took up this entire aisle, as well as half of the next aisle you see in the distance. Certainly there’s a board game that will appeal to anyone in these aisles! Also in this aisle you can see one of the few older style price checker signs this store still uses, which date back to the late 90’s or early 2000’s if I remember correctly.

     Moving up the aisle just a bit we see the rest of the selection of board games, as well as this store’s selection of video games (kept in the glass cases to my left). Behind the glass were the video games themselves, as well as the game systems and some of the more expensive gaming accessories. The next aisle over from here (which I don’t have a picture of) contains more video game related items, such as amiibos, Pokémon cards, and other toys and collectibles related to the games.

     This is a look down one of the main aisles that runs from the left side of the store to the right side, near the back of the building. Unlike some Toys R Us stores I’ve been to in the past, where the aisles sometimes run in a few different orientations depending on the department (with some departments in their own little alcoves), all of the aisles in this store were in perfect rows running front to back (like you would see in your typical grocery store).

     Also, if you look to the top left corner of the photo, it looks like one of the video game cases still had an advertisement for the PlayStation 2 on it! I didn’t notice that sign until looking through these photos after I got home, or else I would have gotten a closer shot of it. While the PlayStation 2 wasn’t officially discontinued until 2013, it heavily began to fade out of popularity in the years following the debut of the PlayStation 3 in 2006, so that’s a pretty outdated sign still hanging in there (as I don’t believe any new PlayStation 2 games are made anymore).

     Back up front again, we now find ourselves looking at the educational toys department. The educational toys were located in this special section with shorter aisles and shorter shelving units, which made the department stand out amongst the other aisles in this store.

     And now a look down one of the aisles in the educational toy department, where you can see the effect of the shorter aisles much better. As YonWooRetail2 commented about the state of the carpeting here, "Carpet just doesn't hold up well in retail stores. Book stores are about the only ones that can get away with it."

     Another look down one of the horizontal center aisles in this store, as well as another glimpse of one of the older style price checker signs.

     The bicycles are located approximately in the center of the store, alongside other outdoor wheeled toys like scooters and skateboards.

     This aisle appears to contain outdoor toys as well as some action figures, in addition to an interesting relic from this store’s past…

     Inlayed into the floor in one of the aisles were two of these roller skate sizing charts. Pictured here is one of the two charts, which I believe are actually a part of the floor and not some kind of sticker. Considering that these charts are actually part of the floor explains how they lasted so long, since it’s probably been years since roller skates have been located in this aisle!

     The center aisles again, this time looking back toward the Babies R Us section of the store.

     Going further into the left side of the store, we now come across the dolls and party supplies.

     A look down the back wall, as seen from the store’s back left corner.

     This is the aisle that runs down the store’s left side wall. The stockroom wraps around from the back and continues down this wall, hidden from view by the shelving to my right. This last aisle contains sporting goods, with the registers visible off in the distance.

     Now we find ourselves up front again, looking down the front aisle toward the educational toys and Legos. The registers are located just behind me.

     In the front of the store, between the main aisle and the guest service desk, was this small alcove for train sets and accessories. Unlike what I remember, it appears that the train set display at this store was “for display purposes only”.

     Beyond Thomas and his friends we find the registers, ten total in this store. While there was only one register open during my visit here, I’m sure on Christmas Eve all ten of these registers could have been found open, with lines at each!

     Here is a close-up of some of the registers. From the looks of it, the registers at this end of the store didn’t seem to be used very often.

     “Thank you for shopping at Toys R Us” was painted on the front of the offices located in front of the registers. These signs appear to be original to when this store was built. As Retail Retell's keen eye noticed, "I wonder why one of the logos has the letters outlined, and the other doesn't... Regardless, these are pretty neat!" This photo completes our look at the interior of this store in its pre-liquidation state, however I have a few more photos outside before we wrap up our tour of this place…

     The exit doors are located behind the registers, and take shoppers out near the left side of the building. Above the door is a close-up of the original “Exit Only” sign that has been here since 1990. The “Exit Only” sign looks pretty warn after being exposed to the hot Florida sun for 28 years straight.

     In the front left corner of the building was the customer pickup entrance, which hasn’t been used in years. There was a sign taped to these doors directing shoppers to use the main entrance, as the old pick-up area had been converted into storage space. I like how the pick-up doors at this Toys R Us store were located up front, as some other Toys R Us stores had much less inviting looking entrances, like this one. The pick-up door at that linked photo does not seem like a place where one would be going to pick up toys!

     With this final look at the exterior, that concludes our tour of the Melbourne Toys R Us store. Once again we can see the older style Toys R Us logo and the outdated signage referencing Kids R Us, as well as the very clear labelscar from the original exterior sign.

     But wait... there's more! So that means it's time to check out the Spirit of Toys Past...

     Hmmm…I wonder what this place used to be! To get us into the Halloween Spirit ("as it's never too early to embrace spooky season", as Retail Retell said - and on that note, he added, "since when did "spooky season" become a thing?! I heard it literally *everywhere* this past year"), why not take a visit to the local Spirit Halloween store! For the remainder of this post, we’ll take a quick look around the Melbourne Spirit Halloween store, which in late 2018 took up occupancy in the former Toys R Us store in town (a common occurrence this past year across the country). With Spirit Halloween taking over about 1/3rd of the salesfloor here, this time around we’ll get an interesting perspective of this Toys R Us post-closure. As YonWooRetail2 commented, "As long as those red, yellow, green, and blue tiles are able to remain The Spirit of Toys R Us will continue to live on. Heh, I figured these abandoned TRU's would make for perfect Spirit Halloween stores, like in Gainesville."

     If this Spirit Halloween store looks familiar to you, fellow My Florida Retail blogger Cape Kennedy Retail posted some of his own pictures of this store on the blog not too long ago. You can view Cape Kennedy's photos by clicking here.

     Spirit Halloween covered over the old Toys R Us logo with a banner, although the old Toys R Us sign still pokes out just a bit. I took this photo at this angle to show how the old Toys R Us sign peeks out from underneath. If you drive by here at night, the Toys R Us sign still lights up, and shines right through the banner. At night, it still looks like Toys R Us is open here!

     On the left side of the building near this store’s exit was this noodle man, which was flopping around in the wind. The noodle man made for a fun effect for those coming to Spirit, and now that I think about it, I probably should have gotten a short clip of him flopping around in the wind. Anyway, also visible in this picture is the old Toys R Us merchandise pickup door, which hasn’t been used in years.

     Heading inside, Spirit Halloween made use of all the old shopping carts Toys R Us left behind after they closed. These carts were for sale during the store’s liquidation, but at $35 a piece, I guess they weren’t a hot seller. It appears the majority of the carts were left behind after the store closed, as can be seen in this photo posted to flickr by fellow My Florida Retail blogger Cape Kennedy Retail. That random red cart you see mixed in with the other old TRU carts is an old Target cart, which Cape Kennedy Retail got a better photo of here. That cart must have wandered over from the Target about two miles down the road at some point.

     Stepping inside the salesfloor, here’s a look back at the entryway. When Toys R Us was open, stepping through those doors filtered you into an aisle that ran parallel to the front wall, which you had to walk through before accessing any other parts of the store.

     Spirit Acres Farm, home to some goblins and ghouls there to frighten shoppers of all kinds, takes up what was originally Toys R Us’s seasonal department. When Toys R Us closed, they left behind all of their shelving, keeping it all in place. Spirit had to clean out the portion of the salesfloor they were going to use for their store, presumably piling all the old shelving somewhere in the back of the building (since that stuff really isn’t theirs to throw away, but who knows).

     Even with those gray paper-covered plywood partition walls in place, bits of Toys R Us décor are still able to peek out from behind them. Those poster panels originally hung above the seasonal department, although there were similar posters elsewhere throughout the store.

     Here we are looking across the front portion of the space being occupied by Spirit. Even though Spirit was only using about 1/3rd of the former Toys R Us sales floor, it still seemed like Spirit had more space than they knew what to do with. With the short aisles of costumes around the perimeter, the center of their floor space was wide open and not filled with much of anything. You can see some of that space in this photo. I did visit this store in early September, not long after this place opened for business, so I don’t know if they later filled in some of the emptiness with other merchandise as Halloween neared.

     Employees only behind the mysterious curtain. And if anyone tries to sneak back there, remember, Deadpool is watching over you. And even though I’ve never seen the movie, I’m pretty sure he’s someone whose bad side you don’t want to be on!

     Anyway, behind the curtain and the partition wall we can see some more Toys R Us décor remnants poking out from behind. The area where I was standing to take this photo was the approximate area of the toy testing zone we saw earlier.

     Moving toward the back of the store, we enter a small portion of what used to be the Babies R Us department. The carpeted area directly in front of me used to be home to some racks of baby clothes and a baby registry desk. This portion of the store is now home to Spirit’s Ears and Tails department, a department name I never thought I’d be typing out in one of my photo descriptions!

     This photo looks toward the back partition wall of the Melbourne Spirit Halloween store, home to the store’s fitting rooms. While the flooring in this place was looking rather beaten and faded, the floor looked especially horrible here. It appears the choppy carpet transition was hidden under a shelving unit when Toys R Us was open, although considering they are a pop-up store, the condition of the flooring was probably a low priority for Spirit. And while on the topic of old and faded things on the floor, in the bottom left corner of the image lay the remnants of an old Nintendo DS advertisement. I can’t really tell how old that ad is considering how faded it’s become, but I’m sure it’s been around since the earlier generations of the Nintendo DS.

     From the back of the store, we get a better look at just how sparsely filled the center of Spirit’s salesfloor is. This particular portion of the salesfloor was home to Spirit’s Halloween decorations, with the checkout counter just to the right of the entryway. When Toys R Us was open, the carpeted area in front of me was home to the educational toys.

     Here’s yet another overview shot of the back of Spirit’s salesfloor, this time angled toward the back left corner of the store. In the distance we can see part of Spirit’s haunted house, where we will pick up in the next photo…if you dare to scroll down, that is…mwahahahaha! (Gotta get into the Halloween spirit, right?)

     Spirit Halloween set their haunted house in the back left corner of the store. It actually looks like a nice little haunted house too, decorated with various props that you could buy in the store. I didn’t go inside though, but YonWooRetail2 went inside the one at his local Spirit Halloween store (also a former Toys R Us), a video of which you can see here.

     While I didn’t go inside the haunted house, I did look behind the haunted house. There was a small opening between the back of the haunted house and the partition wall, which gave me my only glimpse into the unused portion of Toys R Us’s salesfloor. Through the opening we can see the old bicycle racks and a few aisles that weren’t disassembled when Spirit moved in.

     More open space can be seen in this photo I took from the front left corner of Spirit’s salesfloor. With all of the open space, we can clearly see the marks on the floor where Toys R Us’s aisles once ran. The lighter blue marks are where the shelves once were, with the darker areas being the aisle. In addition to showing where the aisles once were, these marks on the floor also demonstrate that Toys R Us should have dragged out the carpet steamer a bit more often…

     From the children’s costume section, here we are looking toward the store’s exit. Behind the wall to my right are Toys R Us’s registers, which are still in place.

     Spirit’s registers are located in front of Toys R Us’s old customer service counter, which is hidden behind that wall. Cape Kennedy Retail was a bit more daring than I was (although he simply claims that the tarp had been pulled back already, and he was in the right place at the right time), and stuck his camera through an opening in this wall to get a glimpse of the old service desk. That photo can be seen here.

     Heading back outside, remnants of Toys R Us’s closing are still floating around this place. On the security pillars I found this fixture sales tag, showing how nobody was willing to pay $400 for these during the closing. There were some fixture sale tags still stuck to a few of the carts, but I didn’t get a picture of any of those.

     And that everyone is the Melbourne Spirit R Us store! This building is still owned by Toys R Us (or whatever entity the remains of Toys R Us are now controlled by), so I don’t know what will happen here going forward. Maybe this store will reopen as a Toys R Us if that crazy revival plan goes through, maybe it will become an Ollie’s Bargain Outlet, or maybe it will sit a while. I don’t know the answer, although those latter two options seem to be the mist likely ones. If I see anything happening here, I’ll be sure to stop by and get some more photos. With all that being said, Happy (nine months to) Halloween everyone!

     Listening to a song from the Semisonic album "Feeling Strangely Fine" and wondering why I see this album so often in the used CD section of stores, since that implies people donated the album because they don't like it but I happen to think it's actually a really great album, and until the next time,

Retail Retell (once again manning the desk for AFB)


  1. If I had known some of these closes I wrote would see the light of day, I might have... well... you know what, I actually have no regrets. It is a darn good album, and people deserve to know this XD