Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Slew of Left-Behind Toys “R” Us Stores Found

This has nothing to do with zebras or Fruit-Stripe Gum. Instead, it's about an animated giraffe and a lovable chain of toy stores.

Yet again, we at The Caldor Rainbow must give a super-nod to The Ames Fan Club forums member Daniel Fife, who led the movement for almost a decade now in documenting older, left-behind Toys “R” Us stores across the country, which hearken back to the original look.

Fife's efforts have been an immense inspiration for our own goal in covering and promoting the preservation of older, original existing Toys "R" Us stores across the land when we first pursued the effort beginning March 2006.
Thanks to his relentless mission of capturing stores across the mid-to-eastern U.S., we’ve been able to seek-out, in-depth and further document various stores such as CLAY and HORSEHEADS in New York and WOBURN in Massachusetts here at The Caldor Rainbow based upon his initial findings. Since then, Fife has found many more stores beyond the Eastern-tier of the U.S., allowing us to see many stores at eye level but most importantly identifying stores with brown-roofs and (some formerly) “striped” frontal facades.

Stores including various traits pertaining to the stores within the original mold are those lacking significant remodeling with largely evident brown-rippled roofs and rainbow-stripes adherent to stores built between from 1978 to 1989.

As we've reported, the company has stepped up shortly after the millennium to do speedy remodels of existing, older locations built during the late 1970's and onto the 1980's expansion boom. Those that have skipped out on any touch-ups in a good near 20-year span still exist even if the company, in the midst of a zealous remodeling effort, has done-in many stores over since.
Questionably, some older locations have featured multiple remodels in their time while others like one in YORK, PENNSYLVANIA; built in the early 1980's (1982 or 1983), and CLAY, NEW YORK; built in 1988, have not had any remodel efforts while others, some older ones have featured multiple, prompt remodels to skimpy paint jobs or slight modifications.

Just last month, Toys "R" Us Inc. unveiled a new marketing campaign and along with it for the first time ever, a retooled company logo to go along with a theme of "Time for Childhood" roots (sadly, no reprisal of rainbow-stripes along store frontages). Commercials are now centered around clever, tender moments of parents, their children and their imaginations - staples of the bond between Toys "R" Us and childhood.

One of the nations first stores to see a new design with an inclusive Babies "R" Us hybrid is the store in AUBURN, MASSACHUSETTS, to which Fife has pictured on Ames Fan Club forums. Auburn was one of the first Toys "R" Us stores in Massachusetts, built in the late 1970's but is already on its third major remodel as of 2007. Meanwhile, a sister store in Woburn, Mass, which survived the thinning of 2006, resulting in many Boston-area stores close, was built in 1979.

The Woburn store has seen next to no remodeling efforts but instead, has seen here and there shades of paint jobs over the years and remained almost entirely preserved up until an unfortunate blue-toned paint job in late 2006.

Here’s an updated list of new, confirmed stores within their original molds across Michigan (1), Illinois (3), Ohio (1) and Iowa (1). If you know of any left in your state, let us know by dropping an e-mail over to or simply leave a comment.

Scale through forums pages 44-48 for pictures and locations.

Opened: 1989
Brown Roof: Yes
Rainbow-Stripes: No, repainted White.
Road Sign: White, Concept 2000 “R”
Contains: Side by side Exit and Entrance.

MOLINE, Illinois
Opened: 1978
Brown Roof: Yes
Rainbow Stripes: No, repainted White.
Road Sign: White, Concept 2000 “R”
Contains: “Children’s Bargain Town ” sign, four-rippled roof, original pastel lettering across building side.

PEORIA, Illinois
Opened: Unknown (possibly late 1970’s?/early 1980s)
Brown Roof: No, ridged steel white, contains large ripples
Rainbow Stripes: No, repainted White.
Road Sign: White, regular “R”
Contains: Located in strip plaza, contains brown/rainbow “Entrance” and “Exit Only” signage. An unusual variant.

Opened: 1987
Brown Roof: Yes
Rainbow Stripes: No, repainted White.
Road Sign: White, regular “R”
Contains: Unusual rippled “curtain” stripes along frontage edges. Oddly, no concept 2000 “R” designs anywhere on store.

PORTAGE, Michigan
Opened: Late 1970's, early 1980's?
Brown Roof: Yes
Rainbow Stripes: No, repainted Blue.
Road Sign: Brown, pastel-colored
Contains: Unusual white outlined building signage, removed Jeoffrey sign (formerly right side) yellow-painted original doors, white older Jeoffrey “Entrance” sign. Also contains protruding slots under roof, evident on early stores (ex. York , PA ).

Opened: 1987
Brown Roof: Yes
Rainbow-Stripes: Yes
Road Sign: Brown, pastel-lettering
A richly-preserved original store, resembles the Clay, New York store.

We invite you to cycle through The Ames Fan Club forums excellent compilation of pictures (mostly from Fife) on the Toys "R" Us thread to see stores from all over to get an idea of stores that have received some shoddy, gruesome hack remodel jobs since their beginnings of brown roof and rainbow-stripes.

Also, check out our archived study on original Toys "R" Us stores (updated recently), including our glorified piece on the Clay store.