Dover’s Toys R Us on company’s closing list

The Dover Toys R Us is planning on shutting its doors. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

DOVER — Going to the store and finding a last-minute gift for children is about to get a little more difficult for Dover-area residents.

That’s because the Toys R Us store in the North Dover Center at 1061 N. Dupont Highway was one of up to 182 stores which on Tuesday the company announced it would soon be closing.

A manager at the Dover store declined comment about the planned closure.

Toys R Us announced the stores on its closing list, which represents about 20 percent of its locations in the United States, will begin going-out-of-business sales in February and the stores will close in mid-April.

“The reinvention of our brands requires that we make tough decisions about our priorities and focus,” Toys R Us CEO David Brandon said, in a letter posted on the company’s website on Tuesday.

“The actions we are taking are necessary to give us the best chance to emerge from our bankruptcy proceedings as a more viable and competitive company.”

The company filed for bankruptcy in September.

Dover City Planner Dave Hugg said he had heard some rumors but was not aware of the impending closure of the Dover location.

“It is always concerning when a long-time business closes,” Mr. Hugg said, while adding there’s reason for optimism considering how the void left by the closure of the Kmart store in Dover was eventually filled by Burlington and Big Lots.

Megan Lloyd, of Dover, said she enjoyed taking her son to Toys R Us so that she could figure out exactly what toys and gadgets her son preferred.

“I will be sad to see it go because it was a way for me to see what toys that my son enjoyed to play with so that I knew what to get him for his birthday,” Ms. Lloyd said. “It will be an inconvenience for mothers and young children to just go to a toy store.

“Toys R Us carried a different variety of toys from their competitors. There were more of certain items you could find there. For example, with a kitchen set, you can find pots and pans and extra food, to where Walmart does not carry it.”

Toys R Us said it is closing locations as it tries to emerge from one of the largest bankruptcies ever by a specialty retailer.

The Wayne, New Jersey-based company, pointed to growing competition from Walmart, Target and online behemoth Amazon.com as part of its recent struggles in Tuesday’s announcement.

Rachel Engle, of Dover, had mixed feelings about the impending closure of the Toys R Us in Dover, though she added that she hated to see people lose their jobs.

“I remember as a young kid my dad worked there for two years during the holidays and going to visit him at work I was amazed by all the toys,” Ms. Engle said. “But I don’t think it will be an inconvenience to me because I hardly shop there. I thought it was a little pricey.

“As a single mom, I do most of my shopping online, and at yard sales and thrift stores.”

Ms. Lloyd agreed.

“They are priced slightly higher than their competitors and I believe online sales really took over,” she said.

Toys R Us did note that some of the closings may be avoided if it is able to negotiate more favorable lease terms.

However, most of the 182 stores on its “closing list” documents are expected to close as the retailer tries to reinvent itself and its spot in the marketplace.

As part of that plan, the toy retailer said that a number of its existing locations will be co-branded as Toys R Us and Babies R Us stores.

“I’ll miss getting the chance to shop at the Toys R Us store in Dover,” said Seth Moore, of Middletown. “Shopping online can be easier sometimes but getting out and getting a closer look at the toys and different games has always been more fun for me.”

Delaware State News staff writer Mike Finney can be reached at mfinney@newszap.com.

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