Thursday, March 22, 2007

Toys "R" Us Design Timeline: 1970's-1989


The Caldor Rainbow has been doing an extensive amount of research and evaluation on Toys "R" Us store history. Through the help of The Ames Fan Club forum members and Microsoft Live Earth, we've been able to study and compile a fine array of unique information about an iconic chain of American toy stores.

Our primary goal with this extensive case study is, apart from preserving the golden ages of the company, is to give you alternative information and original on-site imagery you’re not going to find anywhere else on the internet.

My own passion for finding these stores; ones which resemble the company's now bygone well-known look: brown-roofed and rainbow-striped stores, is the focus. While there are a good handful still out there, by each passing year, the company catches up to these stores, most of which have or are becoming swept up by remodels. Those special stores still out there, still largely untouched by time (or any hapless repaint or remodel jobs), must be documented and preserved before they are gone.


Toys "R" Us eventually emerged from an umbrella of department and specialty stores called Interstate Stores, who owned two chains of toy stores by the late 1960's; one was Children's Bargain Town U.S.A. and the other Children's Supermart. The latter also went by the name of "Toys R Us," which had come from Charles Lazarus' store of the same name. Many of its later incarnations across the country would soon bare the name Toys "R" Us into a household, American icon it eventually became. When the umbrella of Interstate collapsed, the immensely successful toy stores, specifically Children's Bargain Town U.S.A. were all united or rebranded under the banner of "Toys R Us" by 1974. Read all about the companies' histories on Pleasant Family Shopping and their expose.

Many pictures shown here are mostly recent, from 2006 and 2007, from a few remaining, older looking locations we've visited including Woburn; Massachusetts, Clay; New York and Horseheads; New York. We hope to visit more in the future, and expand our travel scope to enhance our resource.

We will begin at this time though there are many stores that began as early as 1970.

STORE DESIGN ERAS

Brown Roof, Rainbow-Striped (1970s-1989)
White, Bright & Tiled (1990-1995)
Concept 2000 (1996-1998)

Blues For Jeoffrey (2005-2006)
Time For Childhood (2007-Current)


“Brown Roof, Rainbow-Striped Era (1978-1989)”



A typical, original template design Toys "R" Us store (Toysrus.com)

Charles Lazarus, founder of Toys "R" Us Inc., began a nationwide sprawl to launch his unique toy store chain. In the beginning, and short path to fame, stores began popping up as contenders and anchors in shopping centers sizing at around 45 to 50,000 square feet. It wasn't long before Toys "R" Us became a parent's bane, in a good way of course.

Brown Roof, Rainbow Stripes
By design; the original stores comprised of what's been referred to as a "toy castle" motif; multiple-layered brown roof, typically shingled though some contained lined steel, with three to four accented fortress-esque ripples over the face of the building. Below contains an array of vibrant rainbow or multi-colored vertical stripes often described as if to project a "curtain" facade; red, blue, yellow and green-striped wooden planks covering the entire frontal façade of the store revealing a few rectangular or box-shaped windows along the frontage. The roof would include the company signage in like multi-colors and an orange-brown (or black) toned sculpt of the company’s long-established mascot, Geoffrey the Giraffe. (Below is the latest rendition and variant of a typical store).


CLAY (7517); located in Clay, New York aside The Great Northern Mall. Built in 1988, this store is true to a typical original store design in the latest variant (taken August 2006).


Blue, Red, Green, and Yellow; the original rainbow-striped facade which draped the front of the earliest stores up until 1989. (Clay; August 2006).

After dark, the building's stripes would become illuminated with the help of lighting under the scaffold roofing (Horseheads; January 2007).

Exterior Model Variants
Upon observations, we've discovered there were a few different iterations of the original style used from their beginning up until 1989. Broken down into TYPES, each is slightly different while they all follow the same basic traits; a brown-roof, rainbow-stripes in their varied fashions.

TYPE A: The original stores built during the 1970's which were not entirely unified by design but had the common traits of a mansard-style rippled brown roof and vertical rainbow-stripes along the building frontage. Stores found would contain as many as five rippled roof layerings and anywhere between two entrant ways on the front, one enter and exit often nearby, clearly labeled. Underneath the entrance would often contain a box-shaped sign containing the "Children's Bargain Town USA" name.

Some of the earlier stores had original or conceptual traits within them like the Catonsville, Maryland store, which contains a "glass-encased tunnel" spanning the front of the store. Different rainbow-striped paneling is even seen on one such, remaining store, the vacant Anaheim/Garden Grove, CA, which is likely a much earlier type. Woburn, Mass.; built in 1979, contained a scaffolding over the sidewalks, an idea not widely mass produced after 1979.

Pleasant Family Shopping has posted a picture for a typical earliest store model, circa early 1970's.

TYPE B
:
Beginning as early as 1980 throughout 1984, this variant was fashioned within an "L-shaped" scheme and where built with focal points focusing on the building's corner or split, presumably to garner more roadside eyesight and traffic. The rainbow stripes would wrap around the building within the "L"-pattern, with as many as two adjacent nearby entrant ways on the building's longer "L" frontage and continuing stripes along the shorter part of the L, which would serve as the building side, often containing an additional logo. Stores are also well known to have had additional "peaking" or box-shaped glass-skylit exits ways distant from store frontal entrances, typically on the longer part of the "L."

Type B has also been known to contain a thinner roof
façade, continuing with as many as four ripples across on the long portion of the "L"-pattern though not exclusively so. These were also the last years stores would see "Children's Bargain Town" signage over the entrance. (Reference: York, Pennsylvania, closed Lansing, Michigan)

TYPE C
:
Seen as early as late 1984 until 1989, this design was one of the more finalized template-styles, modified from original stores over the years. These were the first eras to contain a protruding building vestibule or mini-lobby area where candy and item machines might be stored along with excess shopping carts. Within these lobby areas would contain up to one or two frontal entrances and a side "Exit Only." (Refference: Clay, New York)

TYPE CX
: A sub-variant of TYPE C which was was also a slightly larger featured version. Stores contained often longer roofs, protruding vestibule from building, often contains scaffold and adjacent sidewalks. Also known to be typically larger stores some with inclusive Kids "R" Us additions. Unveiled sometime in the mid-1980's or presumably 1986-1987. (Reference: closed Battle Creek, Michigan and Horseheads; New York).

Some of the earliest versions of the store were often less adherent to the variant styles presented above. Many of these were located in shopping centers (see "1980’s Expansion Boom; Proximity to Shopping Malls") and may or may not adhere to the "strip mall" conformity. These original locations were typically a mesh between established variants "A" and "B" like Woburn, Massachusetts and Catonsville, Maryland which features a kiddie-corner design and a distinct glass-encased tunnel comprising the entire front of the store (essentially contains all of the attributes of all the variants). Not all stores may fit a precise variant type, but will typically bend towards one emprical type. (credit: Daniel "D_fife" Fife for Catonsville).


WOBURN (7506); located in Woburn, Massachusetts and one of the first Toys "R" Us stores in the state features a "conceptual" original look with rare scaffold, and taller roof ripples not found on many later stores (July 2006). Woburn has since repainted to a primarily blue-striped look and has removed the "Exit Only" sign as of late 2006.


HORSEHEADS (6363); located in Horseheads (West Elmira), New York across the Arnot Mall. Built presumably in the later 1980's, this mammoth-sized store contains an expanded roof and scaffolding as well as a Kids "R" Us inclusion. Horseheads has since repainted white-striped as of late 2006. (January 2007).

ATTRIBUTES

Signage
The original Toys "R" Us model included basics that would later become models for future variants; an "Entrance", "Exit Only" and often orange-black colored sign with Charles Lazarus' original slogan perched above the entrance doors: "The CHILDREN'S Bargain Town" found on the earliest stores. Above the entrances was the "TOYS 'R' US" logo and a plexiglas cutout of Geoffrey to the left (and often, later found to the right) of the store name. The original Toys "R" Us channel lettering colors consist of "T" (red) "O" (yellow) "Y" (light blue) "S" (pink) "R" (lime green) "U" (orange) "S" (rich blue).


A store model as seen in a commercial from 1978.


Orange-brown toned “Entrance” signs and rainbow-colored “Exit Only” signs were typically found on store gateways. Stores built throughout the early and mid-1980s came complete with an early portrait of Geoffrey over the “Entrance” lettering as well while some later stores left them absent. The original "The Children's Bargain Town" slogan retained itself in the same orange-brown tone, typically found over the entrances of "L-shaped variant" stores but became absent additions on many stores built after 1985.

Many road pylons or street-level signage were, like the stores, brown-shaded background with a colorful palette, often featuring an enormous Geoffrey sign over the lettering. Many have been removed today, yet some still remain but in newer shades. There were a few known variants; some with the lettering all across, and some with Toys-R Us on two and even three lines in a square-shaped sign (as seen briefly in the "Power of Love" opening sequence of "Back To The Future").

There also appears to be subtle differences in the colors of the channel lettering found on older stores versus new. While the original suggests a traditional rainbow palette, another was unveiled; T (red), O (orange), Y (dark green), S (purple), "R" (yellow), U (light green), S (light red/pink). Upon the late 1980's, there appeared a pastel-themed version of red, cyan, purple, yellow,
orange with a lime green "R" which appear on some of the many 1980's stores and red, yellow, cyan, yellow, orange tones by 1988, 1989.

There's also known styles of the channel lettering arranged in a "spaced" fashion, typically found on early 1980's stores and many "L-shaped corner" variants, where the individual letters were slightly spaced apart.


A typical old-styled "Entrance" sign featuring Geoffrey portrait (Clay).


"Entrance" sign without Geoffrey (Horseheads).


A typical rainbow-colored "Exit Only" sign (Woburn). Source: "Mark" claims this sign has since been removed.


An unusual, very early "Customer Pick Up" sign (Woburn).


A common, 1980's Customer Pick Up sign (Clay).


A typical older road pylon (Horseheads).


An updated road pylon still featuring early 1980's-era Geoffrey (Manchester, New Hampshire). The Manchester store, built in 1980 has since remodeled in 1992 from an original "L-shaped" variant.

Brown Building Stripes
Along the upper and lower edges of the building, typically lined around the entirety of the store, some of which having vertical stripes. When remodels went into effect as early as the 1990’s, most stores repainted the stripes, favoring silver to complement the brighter shift dictated by the newer era.


Brown stripes lining the upper and lower building (Horseheads).

Glass-Encased Exits (TYPE B Only)
Exclusive to the "L-shaped" variant stores used around the early 1980's were glass-encased, solarium-style vestibules used as primary store exits, found distant from the main store entrance(s). Most were scrapped quickly with newer era remodels, beginning in later 1984 models. Like the aformentioned Manchester, New Hampshire store, some where removed post remodeling, while some held on like one store in Bay Shore, New York store and Milford, Connecticut stores.


A leftover glass-encased exit which current exists from a since remodeled, former "L-shaped" store in Milford, Connecticut (6326).

Geoffrey Through The Years
As years went on, Geoffrey’s projected image displayed on stores and in media has changed a great deal and has varied over the years. The basic elements have been there through each redesign; orange and brown tones, antennaes, large lashed eyes, and an unforgettable "oh golly!" expression. Having origins from a realistic image; Jeoffrey is a confirmed male character, and in earlest ad spots, he is seen along with his wife (figure, partner) and daughter (who are also giraffes). However, his image became morphed into a more feminine, playful to an ultimately cartoony look by the latest years with other minor traits made to look more "loose-fitting" such as sloppier hair, and circle-shaped spots apart the "wavy" motif look on the version seen on the Clay store. Historically, there are many different iterations of Geoffrey with most of them either removed or replaced for the latest one (seen on the Woburn store).

Geoffrey's building-side imagery, noticably implicit corporate move to shift the focus off a lesser-focused appeal of the long-time mascot for unknown reasons. The phase-out began as a slow cancer beginning with the removal of associations on the store's exterior within each redesign or era. In the later 1980's stores, the Entrance portrait was removed for simple text. Geoffrey plexiglas "emblems" found on stores next to the company signage was finally stripped away on Concept 2000 remodels, beginning in 1996. All the older locations documented here still currently use the widely phased-out Jeoffrey signage, most of which are actually ones leftover from the 1980's.

As of 2006, the company used their most realistic, cynical sounding Jeoffrey yet most appearant in television ad spots baring resemblance to the real animal. As of late 2007, the company recognizes the importance of Jeoffrey by including him cartoonized, once again in the redesigned store logo in commercials.


One of the typical older designs (Clay).


A brighter, feminine appeal (Horseheads).


A cartoon appeal unveiled in the 1990's (Woburn).

Interiors
Many early stores mainly consisted of typical warehouse-style ceilings, supermarket-style aisles and were often criticized for being low-lit and rather compact. Through the years, this changed to suit the needs of customers, but many stores like Clay and Horseheads hearken back to the common feel of the stores then. The store in Horseheads was a gem beyond being held back in earlier eras, having original rainbow colored paints on walls; the colors of Toys "R" Us on the left side and the bolder shades on the opposing side for Kids "R" Us draped along the walls with accompanied store logo. Much craftsmanship is no more; phased for blue and yellow streaks, which have since been phased for even brighter colors along the white lines.


A richly-preserved interior containing rainbow colored wall mural to the foreground of current day shelving and hanging signage (Horseheads).

"Pull-Ticket" System
One staple artifact of Toys ‘R’ Us stores was their almost marriage-like bond with Nintendo and their untouchable Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) throughout the late 1980s and most of the 1990‘s. The sale of a vast, often unmatched selection of the console’s software kept their sales peaking and notoriety amongst a changing, video-gaming inviting market lively. Frankly, Toys “R” Us was the place for video games among the target audiences of mostly younger child-to-teenager market while today‘s spotlighters for this market, like GameStop, then Babbage’s (and Electronics Boutique / EBGames / EBX, who was recently bought out by GameStop) were once flocked by core computer-centric enthusiasts.


An antiquated "World of Nintendo" video game aisle featuring ticket slips (Clay)

One aspect of their presentation in selling video games, apart their double-line aisles of games was their “pull-ticket” system, which inarguably worked incredibly well for the company. The pull-ticket system included an array of game cover scans encased in plastic flaps with a ticket or paper slip underneath the product containing the price and later the rating of the game. One would take a ticket of desired quantity, bring it to the counter to purchase, whereby after a clerk would fish around in a separate backroom and the customer would later pick up their software at the front of the store just as they were ready to leave the store.


Glass casing displays higher-priced video game hardware (Horseheads)

While it’s still used today in some stores, the ticket slip system has been mostly phased out in favor of the Concept 2000-prompted ‘R’ Zone' at most locations by the turn of the century. The system is still used here but on a modified scale; primarily for game consoles, items of the sort are generally kept behind glass-shelving visible behind the counter like most video game retailers. All video game transaction is taken care of inside the “R” Zone department, no longer having customers wait until the finality of purchase to pick up which caters to convenience above all.


An aisle featuring ticket slips (Horseheads).

Other Happenings In This Era

1980’s Expansion Boom; Proximity to Shopping Malls
When Toys "R" Us began in 1978, the company was basic about stores placement; putting many in outdoor shopping centers. Likely due to the rise in their own notoriety and shopping mall trends and directly competiting with Child World and Kay Bee Toy & Hobby inside malls, Toys "R" Us entered the company’s golden age of expansion; a strategic trend moving in across (almost literally) most regional shopping malls, often in their own properties while some moved into centers adjacent to malls. The move quickly took effect but was almost essential by 1980 and continues this tradition today, though mainly with Babies "R" Us stores as the chain is focused on remodeling and reworking older locations. The chain is well known for having snatched up prime locations for its stores as those are ones to stick around today, despite the wave of closures in 2006.

Kids “R” Us (1983-2003)
Established in 1983, Kids “R” Us was introduced as a clothing-line subsidiary and sister store to Toys ‘R’ Us stores. Trafficking mainly in softlines; clothing, shoes and other related appeal for children, the company aimed towards quality and value, offering brand names and exclusives carried today in many Babies "R" Us or merged Toys "R" Us stores.

The chain birthed and opened in Paramus, New Jersey in lieu of the company’s expansion in the early 1980’s, when stores began popping up everywhere. Strategically placed within a certain general area, sometimes sharing space right next to of the Toys “R” Us brethrens, and mostly had their own originally constructed building variants.

Most early Kids “R” Us stores were like their Toys R Us brethrens; contained mainly brown colors, and bolder colored circular racetrack-like stripes around the entirety of the store's entrance and display windows. Later stores unveiled in the 1990's featuring stacked block windows and a more grandiose-looking format.

A once three-year vacant Kids "R" Us store standing beside an active Toys "R" Us in Manchester, New Hampshire (built in 1981), since demolished for a Nissan dealership, had received a white paint job under it's original brown.


A former Kids "R" Us in Springfield, Massachusetts has plenty of vestige as a Namco Pool Store today.

In 2003, all remaining Kids “R” Us stand-alone store fronts shuttered, ceasing the brand almost completely in favor for a more profitable and rising interest by consumers in Babies “R” Us, which would later occupy some former locations not in the area by then. The company’s loses caused Kids “R” Us stores to be sold off and/or converted and rebranded in response to a booming generation into the much more successful Babies “R” Us, which centers closely around infant and toddler-aged furniture and accessories once carried in smaller quanitites by both Toys "R" Us and Kids "R" Us.

A former Kids "R" Us in Corbins Corner in West Hartford, Connecticut since occupied by Office Depot. Label scar and triangular "Entrance" signs still visible.

Most other stores were sold to other retailers like Office Depot and Petco, leaving existing Kids “R” Us notoriety and brand to be combined with existing Toys “R” Us stores shortly after their closure, which had been already lost volume in response to financial purge. Today, Kids “R” Us still exists by name, mostly within Toys “R” Us and Babies “R” Us parent and/or hybrid stores. The name as a whole still quietly exists, but is slowly being replaced by Babies "R" Us.

Worldwide Exp-Japan-sion (1984)
In 1984, Toys “R” Us expands into the worldwide market seeing it’s first store in Japan. The company currently claims “643 toy stores in 32 countries outside of the United States, including Australia, Canada, France, Portugal and the United Kingdom.” (Toysrus.com)

Flashforward
The last known year of the store’s original look appears to have been 1989; when the company was fizzling from a vast season of successful expansion. Stores within the original image are still around today but are extremely rare as most have since reformatted into variants of fringe post-2000 favored designs or have seen the brunt of minimalist remodels or "cheap", safe, solid-colored paint jobs. Many of the brown-roof, rainbow-draped stores might've showed their age by 1989 and years to come in a few respects; difficultly to maintain, trends changing. These stores conveyed the magical nature of just what made Toys "R" Us itself unique, colorful and candiful to the eye; aspects retail trends vastly stray in seas of white, bright, safe and borings of today.

Here's a list of the latest confirmed stores dead and alive still hanging on; some of which have received paint jobs or minor enhancements, ultimately still original looking, lacking remodeling.

CLAY (7517)
Clay, New York
Year Built: 1988
Variant: Type C
Road Pylon: No
Resembles exact model from Bangor, Maine (1989). Last true original remaining in New York.

HORSEHEADS (6363)
Horseheads (West Elmira), New York

Year Built: 1987 (Unconfirmed)
Variant: Type CX
Road Pylon: Yes; brown-pastel lettering
Repainted to white stripes (late 2006).

WOBURN (7506)
Woburn, Massachusetts
Year Built: 1979
Variant: Original, close to Type A
Road Pylon: No
Repainted to blue stripes (late 2006). Last original remaining in Massachusetts.

BANGOR (7519)
Bangor, Maine
Year Built: 1989
Variant: Type C
Road Pylon: Unknown
Features repainted white roof, still has rainbow stripes.

CATONSVILLE (8344)
Catonsville, Maryland
Year Built: Around 1978
Variant: Type A
Road Pylon: Unknown
Features repainted white roof, and a distinctive glass "tunnel."

YORK (8310)
York, Pennsylvania

Year Built: Unknown
Variant: Type B
Road Pylon: Yes; Toys "R" Us/Kids "R" Us sign; white colored.
Features an oddly off-colored grey-black Jeoffrey. Contains white "Entrance" sign, placed in a former "Children's Bargain Town" placement. Also contains "Exit Only" sign above glass exit. Last original store left in Pennsylvania.

Picture was found on Webshots by user.

BLOOMINGTON (6008)
Bloomington, Illinois
Year Built: Unknown
Variant: CX
Road Pylon: Yes; Toys "R" Us/Kids "R" Us sign; part brown-pastel (Toys "R" Us), part white (Kids "R" Us)
Contains unusual variant; two entrances on building frontage, skewed to the edge. Picture found, taken in January 2005. Google Maps satellite imagery confirms. Stripes have been repainted white.

PORTAGE (6072)
Portage, Michigan
Variant: A
Road Pylon: Unknown
Store is located within a strip plaza. Stripes have been repainted blue.

TOPEKA
Topeka, Kansas
Year Built: 1985 (?)
Variant: Type C
Road Pylon: Unknown

BOARDMAN

Boardman, Ohio
Year Built: 1985 (?)
Variant: Type C
Road Pylon: Brown/Pastel

SAINT CLAIRESVILLE
Saint Clairesville, Ohio

Year Built: 1985 (?)
Variant: Type C
Road Pylon: Brown/Pastel
Stripes painted over white.

MOLINE
Moline, Illinois
Year Built: 1985 (?)
Variant: Type C
Road Pylon:
Stripes painted over white.


CEDAR RAPIDS
Cedar Rapids, Iowa
Year Built: 1985 (?)
Variant: Type C
Road Pylon:
Stripes painted over white.

DURHAM
Durham, North Carolina
Year Built: 1984~5 (?)
Variant: Type C
Road Pylon: ?
Rainbow stripe/planks removed

ROANOKE
Roanoke, Virginia
Year Built: 1986
Road Pylon: Box-shaped
Rainbow stripes repainted blue

Currently Vacant

ANAHEIM
Garden Grove, California
Year Built: 1970s (?)
Variant: Type A
Road Pylon: Removed
Closed in 2002. Currently vacant as of June 2007. Here's the vintage old road pylon, since taken down. Picture taken by Flickr member.

EUCLID
Euclid, Ohio
Year Built 1985, closed 2002. Currently vacant.
Variant: Type C
Currently boarded up, signage removed. Contained "Concept 2000" star "R" logo before closure. Aside equally dead Euclid Square (Mall) area.

BATTLE CREEK
Battle Creek, Michigan
Year Built: 1986, closed 2006. Currently vacant.
Variant: Type C
Site claims it was renovated in 2002 but still seems resembles original style in Inquirer photo (See below). Was coupled with Kids "R" Us.

Battle Creek Inquirer (2006)
Intell Property Group

Resources
Daniel "D_fife" Fife of Chris Fontaine's Ames Fan Club forums, again, is my greatest ally in preserving these stores with his vast collection of images (some linked here) and information on the Toys "R" Us page. Because of his and many others' pictures, I am able to compile and locate stores furthering in concise information and theories.

Dead Euclid

Jen Owens, a fellow Blogspotter, and her fascinating webpage on the dreary haven of dead retail phenomona; Euclid, Ohio. There just happens to be an infamous, dead, out of time Toys "R" Us there looking post-apocalyptic looking too.

Photo Albums
Toys "R" Us; Horseheads
Toys "R" Us; Woburn Revisit (July 2006)
Way Back Woburn (April 2006)
The Great Northern Adventure (Clay, New York)
Flickr: "Great Northern Mall" (features Clay store; May 2007 update)
"Rainbow-Striped Milestone" (May 27, 2007)

Do you know of a Toys "R" Us still within the original mold in your area? If so, please inform us!

Last updated: February 10, 2008.

46 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hi Nick,

Another well written research job. Really look forward to your postings. The Jen Owens link was pretty unique as well.

Greg

Fox N Allen said...

Nick,

You should check out the TRU in Hamden, CT. The TRU, Bob's and Walmart were all once a Bradlee's. I like its' facade alot.

David

Nicholas M. DiMaio said...

Dixwell Avenue in Hamden Mart; I was there earlier last year to see what the Toys R Us looked like. I must say it's one of the nicest stores in the state and was built in 1996, right at the peak of the dreaded "Concept 2000". I understand it took over a fallen Stop & Shop.

I'm aware of Hamden Mart being one of the oldest plazas. I also know that Kohl's right in the next plaza over was once a Caldor. The Hamden Mart "balloon" looking scaffold is certainly bizarre. It's also home to Connecticut's only Bon-Ton. I snapped a few pictures upon my visit as well (they should be on Ames Fan Club).

Marc said...

Nice write-up about Toys R Us. I think I've only been the store twice in my nearly 25 years on this planet. Both times at Corbin's Corner.

Fox N Allen said...

Yes, that Bon-Ton was originally 2 stores. Arthur's a mid range clothing and decorative home store and what was once known as Howland's (No relation to Howland-Hughes of Waterbury, now known as The Connecticut Store) later becoming Howland-Steinbach and eventually Steinbach. When BT took over the space, they knocked down the partition wall between Steinbach's and Arthurs. The Men's/Home section was originally the Arthur's footprint area.

Other points. The TRU was originally a Stop & Shop, but they had the same setup as the Bradlee's/S&S location in East Haven, also having a connective entrance inside. The plaza across the street with the Super S&S was once the freestanding Sears/Auto Center store.

Other store locations were in the Hamden Plaza. The East Buffet was at once a Child World "The Happy Store" and the Marshalls was a JC Penney. Panerra Bread was Consumers Distributing (similar to Service Merchandise) and a Brian Alden (Home furnishings similar to Conran's) flanked the right side of CW.

That's pretty much all I can remember at the moment.

David

Mark said...

One thing to note The older stores of Toys R Us from 1978-80? seem to have in some instances of having four or more roof peaks that are brown and shingled and a large rectangular orange signs over the entrances that read "The Children's Bargain Store" (the R is backwards) and don't have the geoffrey head on them.

Also to note the one in Anaheim,California (now closed) has a slightly difference sequence in the colors instead of blue-red-green-yellow it's blue-red-yellow-green.

It seems that in the 80s they modified it to three peaked roofs in black (and later fiberglass looking) and a more square shaped enterance sign with the mascot.

Bur overall excellent report.

I'm not sure exactly how the letter colors changed over the years, but it seems to me that the "R" was originally green so far.

It looks like the older stores also had smaller letter signs that were spaced more farther apart.

Nicholas M. DiMaio said...

I should've brought the attention of the vacant Anaheim (Garden Grove), CA store which I managed to find a few intruging shots over on Microsoft's Live Local Search; one in it's vitality and one in the vacant stages. Someone has the ground pictures mirrored on AFC, and I believe it's still (years) vacated.

I'll make note that there's a series of early commercials you can see on YouTube dated 1978 (Christmas '78) and 1980 (Halloween '80 spot) that matches the Anaheim store in many respects; the Christmas one reveals a five rippled model and the Halloween '80 shows wider rainbow-panels along the building which is undoubtably a 1978-centered store.

I've also noticed some older shots with that alternative "Children's Bargain" sign over the entrance which reveals itself in some pictures of what I refer to as the "Type C/L-shaped corner store model). No stores within the old-school mold still have it today as far as I know.

Thanks for bringing it up; there's a few commercials which reveal (in animation) some of the store's forgotten facade history rather well.

Mark said...

Your quite welcome anything regarding the old Toys R Us is of interest of me lately probably since when their stores were unique and were the king of toy stores.

It was a mistake to completely strip away the image that was so successful for them for years (a wondererous toys store filled with the greatest toys a in the name of "updating" for it's own sake, oh and yeah dumping Geoffrey (along with the childlike image for focusing more on colllectables for adults which the owner of the company acknowlegdes)

Why did go for an all bland and boxy look and the mishmash aisle layout? Wheres the magic Toys R us?

(I despise that star they put on the "R" of the logo it looks baby-ish but I'm tolerating it)

whew! okay that's enough of my rant ,anyway are the Hamden TRU pictures up? I'm curious what it looks like.

Nicholas M. DiMaio said...

I couldn't disagree, Mark. Toys R Us was quite magical for me and my childhood. Almost everything about current day Toys R Us abandons what it used to be. It's almost precisely a 180 degree turn.

Just look what they've done to Jeoffrey! Not only did they nearly phase him out of the bland new world company image but they've turned a once lovable mascot into a wisecracking cynical type whose likely to adapt with what Toys R Us sees as today's youth.

I'll delve more into this when I get the future two volumes out. Until then, there's a shot of the Hamden, CT store by myself (as well as one by d_fife) on Ames Fan Club/Toys R Us topic. If you can't find it, I'll email it to you.

Keep the input coming!

Mark said...

By the way I've found the picture of the Hamden one, its okay looking for the 2000 prototype but not all that exciting.

I much prefer the Waterbury Toys R Us because of the buildings way of towering over like the old Toys R Us did (I like how the storefront is large making you look upwards) along with the nice facade shape with the brick. Looks a bit more interesting than the usual Toys R Us today. (plus its entrance makes it look like it was a renovated Toys R Us although it was not. That one has a HUGE Geoffrey sticker on the floor it was originally clear of any obstructions since thats whats you stepped on when you first entered the store,now it's disgracefully covered over by the checkouts,originally the video game section was to the right coming in from the entrace in that small corner near the window where basically shelves are right now, and to the far left was the checkouts so you had a spectacular almost theatrical experience entering the store(the cars and trucks toy section was in the back left corner of the store retaining somewhat of its supermaket-esqe identity) but then some chucklehead decided to play around with the layout and put the videogames on the left side,the checkouts SMACK in the front middle, and put the cars and trucks/action figures section section right next to videogames. So now you have an unholy mess of mismatching section here and there (the bikes section is next to the baby section completely unrelated) So now Geoffreys head is covered by checkouts (when you're in the checkout line you see his face looking up at you) come on Toys R Us I now you could do better than that.) However I still like this store despite the flaws. (I'd just wish they'd pay attention more to their "image")

That and along with West Hartford because of the old school entrance (theres just something about walking through a set of doors and then turning right and going down a loooonnng walkway it's something like being introduced to the store.(I believe it's still there)

I'm also still slightly facsinated by the one in Danbury although the peaked roof is gone it still has that 'old style' feeling to it with the previously covered brick showing through. (I think somewhere inside was a rainbow and there was definately a Geoffrey pattern on the walls railing near the bathroom .

I swear I remember the old Toys R Us like it was yesterday like pushing buttons on that Nintendo preview thing (sometimes it was pushed so much the buttons wouldn't work lol. now I remember getting a Bike from Toys R Us in the old Waterbury one like it was yesterday , just crazy oh shoot now I'm remembering the long orange carpeted down to up ramp,and the geoffrey welcome signs and the toys displayed in the windows..okay thats enough remembering.

now that Toys R Us scrapped Geoffrey what does it have left to sell the company image, the star? oh yeah, thats really friendly,not.

I hope the new owner can clean up Toys R Us's mashed up mutilated image (he's been talking about times when Toys R Us ruled the toy market,could be a hopeful sign.)

planning to go to the Worburn Toys R Us store this weekend, hopefully I wont be desappointed besides the fact the rainbows painted over to blue.

(you say the Waterford's one still has the down to up ramp thing? I'd might explore that also some time)

Let's see a little info on the enterance/exit design apprach for this era....

I belive theres at least three kinds of 'special' ones:

one call this Type A in this case with ramps next to each other going opposite directions (waterbury had this: after going through the innner vestibule you would enter a ramp going right heading to the higher floor zigzag(?) to a ramp heading left and into the store, in exiting the opposite happened you'd first head right downward ramp then zigzag to a ramp heading left downward and out into the vestibule then well left to the exit.

a type B in witch the ramps are located on the opposite sides where you enter and take a right head up the incline into the store. to exit you go to the opposite end of the store and head down the incline (West Hartford had both original entrace and exit of this before renovation)

and a type C in which the enter/exit are based around a corner you enter vestibule into room where you see both ramps you take a left and go up the inclining ramp to enter into the store, to exit you go around the corner take a right head down the ramp back in the room and then take a small left to the outside. (I think East Haven had this which I believe was an L-corner building,I could be wrong though)

Type D is simple in-and-out normal non-inclined entrance. (Woburn,Danbury.Horesheads,etc.

Did I miss any? can you let me know if I'm wrong on some of them?

It would be intresting if there was some photos of the old entrance/ exit ramps,that would help elaborate some info.

Mark said...

more info heres where the original store chain design came from (this is Toys R Us first incarnation)

http://www7.toysrus.com/images/about/store_cs.jpg

It looks like it was based off of something like a circus tent with the stripes and notice Geoffrey with the hat in the beginning.

This would explain the reasons for the unusual vestibule,yellow walls with the rainbow,and interesting ramp enterances.

This heritage was lost with the santization of the image to corporate blandness of Concept 2000(along with the suprise of not knowing exactly what is in the store with revealing immediately with the clear view windows) ,Toys R Us lost the magic it once had.

for shame TRU for shame.

Mark said...

you can obviously see here from a snapshot of the Holloween commercial that the style being circus-like is not accidental.

http://www.x-entertainment.com/halloween/2005/october10/teaser.jpg


this stores history gets more facsinating by the minute.

remember an era when 8-10 year olds were called kids and not tweens?(it was only like 10 or 12 years ago).

sheesh can't marketers let kids be kids and not get them into being teenagers so fast?????

let them live their childhood the way THEY want it because that era of their lives will be gone before they know it,sigh okay enough ranting.

It looks so far that the the first style was a castle roof with a circus tent, preety cool design if you ask me.

I'll lets you now if I find more info.

Anita said...

Wow. Where has this blog been my entire life?!

-Anita Rose
deadmalls.com asst. editor.

Nicholas M. DiMaio said...

Lots of information to absorb, Mark. You've made some superb observations about more of what I skimmed over; the interior layout. I really appreciate your insights about this store's history.

West Hartford still has the down ramp entrance but it didn't have that originally. I believe they renovated that in the early 90's from a walk-straight-in model (as far back as I remember, the downramp was added later on).

The place where shopping carts are stockpiled, however, has not changed a bit. My history on West Hartford, especially the year it was built and how it looked originally, still mystify me (and I can't find anyone who remembers it). Someone said it's an early 80's store, so it must've had a brown roof but long ago and was scrapped early on to suit the conformity of Corbin's Corners many remodels after the former tenant, Kennedys, went bankrupt.

I wish I could've seen the old Waterbury store, unfortunately, I was never taken out there by my parents (my father with whom I recently spoke with about old malls said Naugatuck Valley was *ugly* and quite unsafe). Luckilly, the Danbury store looked identical, and really lament the bland remodeling job it received (I believe it to be late '98 or '99).

As far as my research, I can surmise the last brown store in Connecticut (excluding vacant East Haven) was certainly Milford or Waterford. I'm gonna go with Waterford; d_fife said they remodeled just a few years ago and a friend of mine from the area remembers it as rainbow-styled just recently.

I was in Danbury just yesterday and finally took a few shots of the now renovated one. I would still really like to know when they renovated this store (and have been hunting around for an old shot of it; unfortunately all that exists is an aerial taken by SiteRide); as I said before, it's believed to shortly after they built the new Waterbury one, which I agree, is a nice looking store (obviously not as magical as the brown roofed ones).

Lastly, let me just say this brown-roof, rainbow style came about when Mr. Lazarus established his own "Toys R Us Inc.". I can't find evidence to the contrary.

You should seriously consider a day (or two) trip to Clay, New York; it's almost unreal seeing a near facsimile of the Danbury store before it's lobotomy still in tact. I urge the company to not to decimate this store which is the last, untouched old-school one in New York (and presumably all points north excluding Canada).

Mark said...

According to the company history the first store Lazarus opened was a children's furtniture store called Children's Bargain Town U.S.A. (the store shown in the picture) later on he addeed toys to the stores which led to the founding of Toys R Us which did indeed start with the castle roof-rainbow curtain design.

I was just noticing that the style of the old Toys R Us is carnival or circus like(notice that Geoffrey first had a red pinstriped suit around 1980) that MINUTELY was derived by the style of Children's Bargain Town U.S.A. (notice that one of Toys R Us 's first slogan was the Children's Bargain Town)

I'm hoping to go to the Clay Toys R Us sometime very soon, maybe this weekend but I'm afraid that my parents will play the "oh, but thats too far" card and always the "maybe next weekend" card, but heh, I could do the driving heh,heh (I've just turned 20 on March 27th and I get to do whatever I want this weekend)

Mom, agreed on Worburn, I'll see how far Clay,New York is but I've go to do it SOMETIME it's once in a lifetime chance!!!!

Mark said...

eh, Clays a bit too far to do in one day.(it's a lot lot lot of driving)

It's very unlikely it's possible this weekend.

Plus I'm a bit more intrested in the Woburn store it looks slightly different than other common Toy's R Us's.

Nicholas M. DiMaio said...

I lament what they've done with the Woburn location because I saw it twice when it was still rainbow striped. This was the first brown-era store I saw in years (since they remodeled Danbury, CT).

It's still worth a look and not too bad a day trip. Clay, unfortunately (I think you're a CT native) will mean an overnighter since it's about 4 hours from my grounds.

So you have March 27th birthday? That's when mine was except I turned 22.

I'm planning a trip to Clay for a two maybe three day affair in the next month or two to just capture tons of images of upstate retail and malls.

Either way, take plenty of pictures!

eric said...

Great Blog!
I worked for Toys R US in the 80s, in the DC area. Lot of the stores were old and had not been remodeled.I wish I had taken photos of the exterior of the stores where I worked. Baileys Cross Roads/Fairfax were both really old stores, many of the employees had been at TRU from the start and had many stories to tell about the Old days.

Mark said...

Well, I went to Woburn yesterday, and let me tell you it WASN'T dissapointing! EVERYTHING I REMEMBER ABOUT THE OLD TOYS R US CAME FLOODING BACK TO ME AGAIN. Entering the store was like being in a COMPLETELY different toy store. I could almost NOT believe what I seeing! A real peaked wooden roof Toys R Us that was actually open! It was like stepping back into my childhood again. From the point of seeing the Geoffrey sign,the wooden planks,the old peaked roof with the colorful(non-starred) signage,the orange enterance sign,the wooden planks,the center entrance doors the looong halllway with the penny machines with the geoffreys on top and the entrance inside I was shacking with excitment,I swear I got chills. THIS WAS A REAL TOYS R US!!!! not one of those bland imposters out there.

Inside was even more exciting THEY HAD THE SUPERMARKET LAYOUT!!! they even had the BIKE RACKS! the SHELVES reached to the ceiling!

This store reminded me of the old one in Waterbury,somewhat of the one in Danbury also. Being in the store was like an adventure I couldn't stop looking around!

The even had the old price tags the orange ones with the "R US" on them!

Let me tell you this store WAS HUGE! The pictures just doesn't do it justice,the roofs were gigantic! the signage was large, the store was possibly at least 20 feet high. The Entrance sign was BIGGER than the door space itself!

This store demonstrated what was missing from todays Toys R Us, magic! imagination! fun! amazement! I finally got what the building style meant THE BUILDING itself looks like a toy! (pretty clever) going through that vestibule again for the first time in 5 years (Danbury wasn't renovated until after 2002,I think) was like a mini-adventure. That little diversion to the left in the enterace makes all the difference to me. Now after shopping at this store(yes I did, actually we did my parents and I, dad got some easter eggs and a diecast car,and I got a diecast car,my mom was looking for a stuffed bunny but never found one. My dad did the driving)I realized that Toys R Us's current objective in renovating their buildings from something so unique to something so-well-uh bland makes no sense! How does taking a peaked roofed rainbow design and turning it esssentially to a glassed flay box make a toy store more appealing?

This Toys R Us was a tourist destination not simply just some toy store. Did I take pics? you kidding me? ABSOLUTELY! I got some great pics of it in the late afternoon and at night was even more a treat! it was like a work of art! I got some great pics! They need to be developed though and they'll need to be scanned in order to be seen on the computer. Yes the sign lit up, it had no problems either all the letters lit up,the geoffrey sign,and the entrance sign. The inside hallway lit up also. I took pics of the exterior only, I didn't want to look odd or suspicious in taking pics of the inside (no matter how much I wanted to)

The customers coming in and out looked at me as like it was odd that I was taking pics of an everyday toystore,little knowing (or caring) that this style is EXTREMELY rare these days.

many of the workers saw me and my camera but didn't seem to really mind or care. (I didn't see any objections to it) I made sure that my mom was near me most of the time so as to not look like some crazy person(and to show that I have no hostile intentions nor would I ever want to EVER),the later pics they sat in the car and waited. I think it was obvious to many of them I was an out-of-towner tourist documenting this rare landmark.

Overall the experience was memorable more than any other Toys R Us I've been to. (The Exit Only sign has been removed and no I did not try to reach the original exit from the inside,too many carts LOL,oh they also had old Toy R Us baskets with a yellow outline Geoffrey,no sorry I did take pics of those)

As you can see the rainbow colors being painted over didn't really ruin the experience,besides if they were there I'd would of thought it was 1978 instead of 2007!

after we ate a good meal at the 99 and had a looong drive home.

I swear this area is stuck in some sort of time warp to a degree, the also had an old styled Dunkin Donuts,and a Mcdonalds complete with a WORKING Playplace,near the highway on the way back was a plug-styled Circut City (its building sign was lighted,not sure if it was open,we were going too fast to take a picture)

Nicholas M. DiMaio said...

The Woburn store is indeed an attraction in itself. And you say they also removed the Exit Only sign? My would you have been astounded and giddy as I was when it was still painted within the rainbow stripes. Glad to know they didn't change the interior layout either (foamboard ceilings and supermarket aisles in tact as well).

So you think this store was amazing, eh? Clay and Elmira/Horseheads stores can one-up that each in its own right. Horseheads still has the rainbow colors painted on the interior walls along with those painted murals of the company signage! The bike aisle was enormous too, like the old days, and they still had a Kids R Us department!

But Clay is a real time-travel; I think you're going to have to make a journey there or Clay real soon before the blandness curse infects those stores. Clay has everything Danbury had; I'd swear the store (which shares the same build year) is a clone in its own parallel universe! Wait until you see the inside of that store...

The workers didn't seem to care much about my overzealous photography either. Of course, that wouldn't stop me anyway. I really look forward to seeing your pictures (especially those dusk ones)...

There still seems to be great disillusion regarding the true renovation date of Danbury. I might just have to speak with some management or long-time employee there next time I shoot up that way.

Mark said...

I know FOR CERTAIN that the old Waterbury Toy's R Us was still vacant as of March 2002 because I saw it still there during that time while we took a slight sidetrack to get money at the Stop & Shop in the former Naugatuck Valley Mall location (the current shopping center was still under construction) on a trip to New York City to see the damaged Sphere sculpture from the WTC on display in Battery Park.

If I remember correctly the building was boarded up and it had the three peak roof varient with the rainbow stripes.(1988 design) it didn't have the lettering on it but I believe it still had the Geoffrey sign (1990s design) on it.
(that store was awesome)

It appears from looking at old satellite images and one image that was on the Ames fan club actually it still is in this image: http://www.amesfanclub.com/forum/viewthread.php?action=attachment&tid=46&pid=5720

You can tell it looks like sort of one of those L-corner varients which would mean that the entrance was one that was long ramps heading towards and from the direction of the far front left corner.

In fact if I remember correctly it was,please disregard my last posting about the opposing ramps my meomory is sorta playing tricks on me.

Here is how I more ACCURATELY remember it:

You enter the vestibule HEAD LEFT go through the left entrance into store IMMEDIATELY you head left AGAIN first onto a short decending ramp onto a long ramp (orange carpeted with orange sides had railings) heading upstairs (there may have been a section between them that was non carpeted,white and headed breifly to the right)which then leads to a U-turn onto a another ramp (think something like a stairway only without the stairs) that dips a little but inclines more and heads left (they liked lefts a lot for some reason) Onto the "upper floor" which was a orange carpeted area near the front regular floor near the back. They had large rectangular welcome signs (blue on top white at bottom) with the 90's Geoffrey on them. In blue letters reading "Welcome to Toys R Us" (My memory saying now that these ramps MIGHT of angled diagonally a bit)

Now the exit was a bit more simple it was a series of 90 degree winding orange carpeted steps with high high orange colored walls on each sides with little glass window tops on them.(I think it was possible to bypass the stair part if you weren't going through the checkouts)

I remember VIVEDLY that the store DID have the rainbow design with the "Toys R Us" painting on it that part was on the upper floor I believe.

I suspect this store was a much older one that was slightly renovated in the 80s and had a few add ons in the early 90's specifically such as the Welcome signs.

As more me why I know so much of these things my upbringing as you'd might say was 'deprived' in that I grew up with outdated culture which in actuality was a unique experience for me, my childhood filled with groovy and antiquated stores and malls,listening to tunes along the lines of Fleetwood Mac and Rolling Stones.(wierd considering that I was born in 1987)

But you've should've seen Waterbury back in the early 90's specifically Wolcott Street that whole area was stuck in a 70's or 80's timewarp!

The Waterbury Toys R Us was AMAZING! (some might say dumpy but I'd disagree) it was something pretty magical to0 much to discribe with words.

If only there were pictures of that place if only!

Got a Time Machine? LOL

Nicholas M. DiMaio said...

My mother, who dragged me to all kinds of malls, never took me to Waterbury. As you said, it had/still has a bad reputation for being a dump. I drove down Wolcott St. and Lakewood Rd. briefly yesterday and it's just got a unique vibe; tons of oversized road pylons all visible coming down the road like a squadron of airplanes coming at you! They're all close quarter tenants; just that kind of antiquated retail haven that closely reminds me of Frontage Road in East Haven just a bit.

That interior description is wild; ramps carpeted orange?! And an upstairs area? Series of ramps? I don't recall any of this... ooh to have been there!

I wish I remembered Toys R Us interiors more; Horseheads brought back such dark (not as in evil) memories of the rainbow-colored walls that I'm pretty sure I remember vividly from Danbury, CT and/or Waterford, CT. I was swamped with the W.Hartford store aplenty, and remember it was relatively dark inside before they did a (series of) interior remodel(s) in 1993 and on.

No need to excuse the upbringing. I've been told I should've been born in the 70's with my inability to adapt to much pop culture trends of today, many quirky hobbies and offbeat music trends gone by. Oh, and Fleetwood Mac rules.

Mark said...

Thanks I'm glad I'm not the only one BTW it seems many people are oblivious that they are in presence of a rare rare rare styled Toys R Us take this example of this series of pictures taken during the Ps3 and Wii release last year somewhere in south central Pennsylvannia (check out the glassed exit and rainbow bars!)

http://www.fourhman.com/blog/images/tru-line1.jpg

http://www.fourhman.com/blog/images/tru-line2.jpg

don't ask me if it's still open I have no clue!

anyway I think the Waterbury Toys R Us looked slightly closer to this one.

http://www.x-entertainment.com/halloween/2006/random/tru.jpg

notice entrance to the left.

I know DEFINATELY for sure that Toys R Us was older it's roadsign letters were colored red-yellow-blue-purple-green-orange-blue (this is NOT from my memory but something I noticed from a picture taken on Wolcott Street back in 1986! PROOF that this store WAS NOT from 1988!!!

some places are called "dumps" because they've got buildings that are old (from 50s,60s,70s) or in a city consdidered crimey Waterbury is still considered high crime,but the chances you being a victim are slim on Wolcott Street and in the mall, me and my parents have been going to that area for at least 20 years (even after dark in the in the old mall) and I have never witnessed I crime ever! I think the most of the trouble happens downtown,and probably late at night,I'm not saying it doesn't exist but be aware and don't be overly paranoid about it.

you can sort a get an idea of the entrance with this pic look inside of the store look at the colored wall that would be near where the ramp is

http://image02.webshots.com/2/0/12/91/50301291AgAlJI_ph.jpg?track_pagetag=/page/photo/goodtimes/friendsfun&track_action=/ViewActions/FullSize

The Waterbury one had windows near the first ramp too to display the newest hottest toys. (they don't do that anymore)

heres another old toys r us pic these things are like eye candy!

http://image03.webshots.com/3/7/38/47/28073847rfwtnOxvst_ph.jpg?track_pagetag=/page/photo/family/vacations&track_action=/Shortcuts/FullSize

an early 90 Toys R Us this pic should give you a better idea for your next part in Toys R Us design history.

http://image53.webshots.com/53/4/89/0/460948900VgiCkw_fs.jpg?track_pagetag=/page/photo/goodtimes/summerfun&track_action=/Shortcuts/FullSize

for the early 90s Toys R Us had another varient in which the rainbow colors were curved like a tube and attached to the bottom of the overhang and lit up at night,which could be seen in partly to the far left in the picture and much more clearly in this Youtube video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uMaY3O5cCck&mode=related&search=

and here notice the geoffrey sign for a brief second(this dude is taking this store waaaay too much for granted.)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2FszQrGh9bU&mode=related&search=:

The store seems to be somwhere in Canada judging by the location the uploaders from.

Hope this helps

as an added bonus heres West Hartford's Toys R Us camio on Youtube! Connecticuts famous now!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bHdKjC9lRx8

Nicholas M. DiMaio said...

That store in central Pennsylvania is, without a doubt, the York store.

I want to do a trip there, and hope to within the next few months. It's one of the L-corner shaped ones (I've never visited one of these before) with the glass exits. D_fife has a picture, I've got it linked on the page.

Let me also note, the roadsign in my post (from Horseheads; brown-pastel lettering) is a typical old sign. I presume most of them looked like that one.

I've seen many YouTube videos of the PS3/Wii launch and it constantly frustrates me when the posters display their lousy photography/filmography skills coupled with failing to reveal their location.

Mark said...

Okay so I would guess the Waterbury one to be at least from 1978-1984-85 (from, the aerial pick of it it doesn't show brown stripes on the side,which means it was either repainted OR it was a store from 1984 or 1985)BTW the sign I was talking about was on the big plaza sign along with other stores NOT on a seperate pylon! that Toys R Us was made from what I've heard a part of a subdivided Two Guys that closed in the 70s I think.

Anyway, heres a new design concept for Toy R Us I've made.

http://img354.imageshack.us/my.php?image=newtoysrusdesignconceptku4.jpg

comments welcome.

Meantime I'll find some more info on old Toy R Us stores.

dumpstermcnuggets said...

Hi Nick,

I greatly loved reading this post. And as a matter of fact, I dedicated one night, back in January 2007(and before I took a break from going to Illinois State University, located in neighborhing Normal, IL), to photographing the Bloomington, IL Toys R Us store.

If you're ever in either the Peoria or Champaign-Urbana, IL areas(or even barely over the border from Illinois in western Indiana, you should definately make a trip to check the Bloomington(IL) Toys R Us store out, Nick. It's not quite as preserved as the Clay, NY store you talked about, but it's pretty close to almost being intact, when it was first built. The only differences I could tell, from when it was first built, was that all the vertical multi-colored stripes have been repainted white, plus I can tell the sign along Empire St. was updated to a white sign sometime probably in the 1990s. And not to finally mention, this is a store that NEVER adopted the R Zone and kept the ticket system, in their video game area!

Eventually at some point, I hope to have the pics I took of the Bloomington, IL Toys R Us on my flickr account. Take care!

Nicholas M. DiMaio said...

Dumpstermcnuggets,

We've known about the Bloomington, IL store but did not know they repainted the stripes to white (like Horseheads). I am eagerly awaiting your pictures and if you would like, I will directly link them when you've uploaded them.

Also, find me on Flickr.

Mark said...

interesting it looks like Woburn was one of the earliest concept stores for the Toy's R Us rainbow castle front look, since the signage is erected higher and is slightly different from the later stores.

Also look at the roof size, much larger than later stores.

Orochimaru said...

Great job! I still go to the TRU in Corbins Corner. Not the one in Newington too much. I know I should stand up for my home town, but West Hartford is happy fun magic land.

Mark said...

If your wondering what was there in Corbin's Corner before Toys R Us it was a store called Kennedy's it was there circa 1973 or 1972 when Westfarms Mall was under construction.

I saw it in a historic picture book of West Hartford.

Anonymous said...

the Hamden mart - if you are fans of the Roseanne show when she started working at the restuarant in the mall, the outside shot of the mall was the old Steinbachs, I worked there and my car is in the shot

Anonymous said...

Great Aartical It was Just what I was looking for thanks for reserching Toys "R" US

Anonymous said...

Toys in Manchester, New Hampshire is in the process of being remodeled into a Toys-Babies superstore (I have never been) and the facade on the Hamden Mart has been gutted, they are remodeling the whole thing and have taken down all the red awnings (which I saw in Roseanne and swore it had to be Hamden, thanks for the confirmation!) Keep an eye on the Mart, great things are happening in that area.

Thanks for this awesome post!

Anonymous said...

If any of you go topuertyo rico you will find that the toys r us uin Plaza Las Americas still retains that old school look

togbane said...

Lego duplo Lego Duplo har en masse dejligt toglegetøj. Vi har samlet alt det Lego Duplo togbane der findes. Kig ind – vi har varerne på lager og hurtig levering.

Anonymous said...

Lafayette Indiana has not been touched in years. Still has the multi-colored stripes outside. The back of the building faces the highway, so they made a "fake" store front on that side, but you must enter from the backside. Who's wise idea was this? Sadly, there is a "adult" store that shares the parking lot these days. This store has seen better days........... but it still plugs on.

Anonymous said...

This article is great. It brings back so much nostalgia haha!

Anyway the stores in Philadelphia were all revamped into the 2000 era which is drab.

When the Toys R Us on Cottman avenue still had it's rainbow striped look, it was an extremely odd configuration. Anyone whos familar with the mall from the 1980's- c. 1998 would know that the Toys R Us entrance was not located off to the front, but around a small hallway that joined the Toys R US entrance with Clover. Also, the interior had plain white walls and a dropped ceiling instead of a warehouse style. I found this very odd . It was recently revamped to have warehouse style ceiling and plain white on the outside. Did all of the stores have a dropped ceiling during a specific period?

KidKobun said...

For the love of GOD can someone please tell me where I can find a TRU that still uses the ticket system, please?! I would seriously buy a plane ticket and visit a store that still uses this system just for nostalgia sake. I kid you not.

James said...

To the guy from Philly above, I have the reason the TRU on Cottman was different. It was one of the first Toys R US in the area and was built in 1981. IT was NOT custom built, it occupies the building of a former Food Fair/Pantry Pride. That is why it had the drop ceiling and the different layout until they renovated it. Yes the doors were around the other side right behind Clover. It was a unique Toys R US. Now it is a 90s era white tiled store with the doors in the front. I wish it was still like that just to have a unique Toys R Us back, I'm trying to find pictures of it but nobody has any!

Anonymous said...

I love the old Toys R Us; If I remember correctly the one in Milford had a huge striped facade.

I also remember my grandparents telling me we were going to the Toys R Us in Hamden, and being so excited, only to end up at the comparatively lame Kids R Us on Dixwell. It had a cool electronic tic-tac-toe game, though.

Anonymous said...

just signed up at thecaldorrainbow.blogspot.com and want say hi to all the guys/gals of this board!

Mario said...

Nick,

Have you ever been to Portland, OR yet? This is where I am from, and here there are three Toys "R" Us stores here that all are still in operation.

All three of these seem to date from 1980, for that was the earliest year I came across TRU ads in the Oregonian newspaper on microfilm.

The three locations are:

TOYS "R" US (CLACKAMAS)
12535 SE 82nd Ave.
Portland, OR 97266 (97086)

TOYS "R" US (JANTZEN BEACH)
1800 Jantzen Beach Ctr. Dr.
Portland, OR 97217

TOYS "R" US (TIGARD)
10065 SW Cascade Ave. (across Hwy. 217 from Washington Square mall)
Tigard, OR 97223

All three have been remodeled outside, most recently the Jantzen Beach location. Nothing left exists of the 1980 beginnings: rainbow striped paneling, brown roof, Geoffrey head and rainbow "TOYS 'R' US" letters.

In conclusion, I wish to ask you whether or not you'd ever been here before and had taken any pictures of these three stores here in Portland back in the '80s-'90s?

~Benjamin "Mario" Edge

~Gaz~ said...

I did a Google image search for Toys R Us and said "Hey that looks like the Woburn store" and it was! I've worked for TRU for 10 years now, in Medford, Peabody and in the temporary Toys R Us Express in Stoneham (all MA) but was no stranger to the Woburn location and the fact that it kept its original design far longer than any other area store (they almost all got remodeled during Concept 2000). Unfortunately last year they completely overhauled the Woburn location, updating it completely and making it a TRU/Babies R Us side-by-side. This blog and a few pictures on my flickr remain as the testament to the glory days of Toys R Us. I look back to the Toys R Us of the 70s and 80s and even the 90s and lament. The company has gone very downhill :(
Medford used to have an Ames (it is now a Super Stop n Shop), Bradlees (Kohls), and nearby Malden had a Caldor (Dollar Tree)so I'm glad I stumbled across this blog albeit a little late to the show

Mario said...

I wonder what the Woburn, MA Toys "R" Us had looked like when it originally opened in 1979?

Besides the rainbow-striped paneling, the other original exterior features would have been: the scaffolding underneath the roof would've also been brown, the TOYS "R" US letters would have been in this order of colors: red-yellow-light blue-pink-lime green-orange-rich blue, and the outside walls were white with dark brown lining.

The Geoffrey head, if it were there in the first place, would've been the tall one.

~Ben

Anonymous said...

This is good site to spent time on. allergy Read a useful article about tramadol tramadol

MightyRabbitStudios said...

The Wilmington, NC TRU on Oleander Dr is still rocking the classic 1984-1989 design as of September 2013. The rainbow striping, brown roof, aisle layout, and pull tickets are all present and accounted for. The rainbow striping and exit only sign are very worn. I would not be surprised if they remodeled the store soon.

Previously (up until 2012) the Durham and Fayetteville locations were also classic buildings. They've since updated. :(