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As Toys R Us closes, some local shoppers mourn, some hunt deals

Jacob Tierney
| Thursday, March 22, 2018, 12:04 p.m.

Some shoppers came to Toys R Us in Hempfield on Thursday to hunt for bargains. Others came to pay their respects.

The Donohoe Road store will join the other approximately 800 Toys R Us locations and close for good within the next few months as the once-mighty toy retailer shuts down .

"I'm not going to cry, but I'm very sad," said Brenda Blasioli of Bovard. "I bring my granddaughter here like once a week, and we walk around. It's just something we do."

Her granddaughter Olivia, 6, wrote the employees a card when she heard the store was going to close, Blasioli said.

The store was busy Thursday, but not everyone was a paying customer. Some were looking for a deal, and many left empty-handed.

"Everything was just the normal price, and I was like, 'that's kind of disappointing,'" said Morgan Meyer, of Somerset, who was passing through Hempfield and hoped to find a gift for a baby shower.

A nationwide liquidation sale was supposed to start Thursday, but the Wayne, N.J.-based company announced at the last minute that the sale had been delayed and will likely begin Friday.

Meyer said she has some nostalgia for Toys R Us, which stocked a few "niche" toys she couldn't find elsewhere, but she won't be too sorry to see the store go.

"Everything was just the normal price, and I was like, 'That's kind of disappointing,'" said Morgan Meyer of Somerset, who was passing through Hempfield and hoped to find a gift for a baby shower.

Sue Ecker of Greensburg brought her grandchildren Colin, 8, and Camryn, 6, to the store two days in a row this week.

"We've always come on little shopping excursions. I've done it with my kids and my grandkids, and it makes me really sad," she said.

Greensburg resident Joseph Zeoli said when his kids were younger he would do a lot of his holiday shopping at Toys R Us.

"I guess it's going to be depressing when it closes," he said.

He didn't buy anything Thursday morning but said he'd probably be back later in the day.

Once the liquidation sale begins, inventory won't last long, CNN Money reports. Experts project the shelves will be bare within a month or so. About 31,000 employees nationwide will lose their jobs.

The country's former top toy retailer announced in January that it would close 182 U.S. stores, or about one-fifth of its locations. This month, the retailer said it plans to close the rest.

Toys R Us filed for bankruptcy in September, citing nearly $8 billion in debt.

Toy company executive Isaac Larian and other investors have pledged $200 million and hope to raise four times that amount in crowdfunding in a bid to save potentially more than half of the Toys R Us stores that will close, the Associated Press reported Thursday. It is the first known plan to keep the Toys R Us brand alive, the AP said.

Jacob Tierney is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-836-6646, jtierney@tribweb.com or via Twitter @Soolseem.

Customers enter the Toys R Us on Donahoe Road in Hempfield on Thursday, March 22, 2018. All Toys R Us locations will close soon.
Customers enter the Toys R Us on Donahoe Road in Hempfield on Thursday, March 22, 2018. All Toys R Us locations will close soon.
Paul Sakuma/AP
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