Monday, May 14, 2018

Toys R Us Baytown Texas Store Closing Sale


Here is the first of many TRU stores closing in the Houston area. This Toys R Us in Baytown Texas was built across the highway from the majority of the retail growth that Baytown had in the 1980's around Garth Road. This store is somewhat hidden by large oak trees that block visibility from I-10. 

The modern version of Geoffrey looks strange to me.

This store was at the beginning stage of closing down on my visit and still looked normal in some areas. The electronics section was still mostly full.

A whole 5% discount, wow what a deal!





These would have been awesome to have as a kid. I was just born a generation too late.


The bikes selection was very thin already at this store. This would not be the case at other TRU stores I visited.









Babies R Us entrance from TRU.

The few Lego sets left were also a measly 5% off.












A variety of shopping baskets. Hopefully I can score one when the fixtures go on sale. 

You can certainly say that TRU had a massive variety of items in their stores. 





Final thoughts on TRU Baytown. This store was nearly identical on the inside to the Humble location that flooded during Hurricane Harvey. This store being an older Toys R Us was in really good shape. 


25 comments:

  1. Thanks for the photos of this Toys R Us. I can see some vintage TRU elements near the entrance/vestibule, but otherwise the store looks like it's been renovated at some point since the 1980s/early 1990s. It's hard for me to say how new the interior is given my very infrequent shopping at TRU in recent decades. The last time I shopped at TRUs semi-regularly was when they sold Certron VHS tapes back in the very early 1990s!

    The video game department looks quite different from how I remembered them looking back in the 8/16-bit eras. Back then, they weren't in a square like they are now. Then they were in regular aisles with pull-tags you'd take to the register. I guess every store might have been different though.

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    1. This store was most likely renovated in the mid 2000's like the Humble store and many others were. This store had a very similar floor plan to the Humble location and several others I visited. I did not find any VHS tapes yet, but you never know what they will unload from the warehouses.

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  2. Kind of odd how many closing signs we've had for the going out of business sale. I've basically have seen every possible closing signs from the whole Toys R Us going out of business.

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    1. I know that 2 companies won the rights to liquidate TRU. I am not sure if that is why they have a variety of closing signs in the stores.

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  3. Toys R Us is the largest toy dealer in the United States. I feel very sad when I look at a store that has a family. After all, it has accompanied countless children to have a happy childhood.

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    1. The loss of Toys R Us has hurt many generations of families, even the ones that have not been there since their own childhood.

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  4. You know how you said it was blocked by trees partially, right? Well that is how the Willowbrook Walmart was.

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    1. Trees and several buildings, lol.

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    2. The Willowbrook Walmart seemed so cool to me when I was younger because there was a tiny pond and a bunch of trees in a grassy area, and then, the Walmart was just there, past the trees, in the parking lot, secluded and hidden from FM 1960. Now I know that is why it probably closed. Maybe it closed also because reviews said it was ghetto. Maybe these factors were too much for it, even though it was always packed.

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    3. The Toys R Us used to have a huge Geoffrey on the sign that could be seen far down 1960. I am not sure when that Walmart was opened up, I only went there a handful of times in the late 90's/early 2000's. I tried to go when they were closing, but they were closing early during the sale and I was there just after 9pm.

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    4. It opened sometime around the 80’s and 90’s. I was looking at old satellite imagery on Google Earth and I saw it on there. It’s crazy because the old building looked small, compared to when it was turned into a Supercenter.

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    5. I took some screenshots of what I think is the Toys R Us that you are talking about. It is the one that is now a Big Lots, near the former Walmart on 1960. I can send the pictures to you by e-mail if you want. The pictures were taken in 2007.

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    6. The Willowbrook area Wal-Mart opened around 1994-1996 I would say. It's hard to remember the exact year. I really can't explain why the store was set back so far from FM 1960, but there were some other Wal-Marts in that era, usually in rural areas, which were set back from the road a bit as well (albeit those usually didn't have quite the forest area that the Willowbrook store had). I don't know, traffic used to be really bad on 1960 in the 1990s and maybe Wal-Mart was anticipating further road widening and so maybe they wanted to keep enough buffer space so they didn't lose the parking lot to future road expansion which probably won't happen anytime soon now that traffic has somewhat stabilized on FM 1960 in recent years after many traffic calming measures have been put into place on 1960.

      Sometimes developers have to agree to odd clauses when they buy land to build things like stores. I don't think that was the case with the Wal-Mart, but who really knows. The best example of an odd clause was when the Spring Branch Kmart opened in 1962 (it was one of the first Kmarts ever). The land the store/shopping center was on was a family farm owned by the Hillendahl family. The Hillendahls sold the land, but they had a cemetery on the property which they wished to keep. Thus, the Kmart shopping center was built around the small cemetery and a corner of the shopping center, which was near the Firestone auto garage, was fenced off as a cemetery. The Kmart was torn down a few years ago for a housing development, but the auto garage and cemetery are still around. I believe Firestone left that garage a few years ago and now it's a private auto repair place. Here is an old photo of the Firestone and the cemetery.

      As for why the Walmart closed, my best guess is that the 249 and West Rd. Walmart opened just a few months before the Willowbrook Wal-Mart closed so maybe it was Wal-Mart's intention to have the new 249 store replace the Willowbrook one. Maybe that wasn't the intention, but maybe the new 249 store took too many sales away. Even without the 249 store, Wal-Mart had stores nearby to the north, east, and west so that area is quite sufficiently covered with Wal-Marts.

      There are also rumors that Wal-Mart has closed stores in other areas when there is labor unrest at a particular location. I have no idea if that was a factor with the Willowbrook store. I wouldn't think so, but who knows.

      I will say that the management at that location was not the best in the years leading to the closure. That store chronically had problems with very long checkout lines because they would only keep one or two lanes open even during peak shopping hours, but that was hardly the only Walmart that was guilty of that huge annoyance. What was somewhat unique was the problems that store had with putting products on the right spots on the shelf. There were many times when the price tags on the shelves under the items were for a different product than what was actually there. Thus, one had to use the price scanners to really know what something cost.

      One thing about that old original Willowbrook area Toys R Us is that they added a Kids R Us clothing store next to the TRU store in the early 1990s. I don't think the Kids R Us lasted all that long and it was eventually turned into what it is now, a Discount Tire store.

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    7. Whoops, I keep forgetting to add the links which I promise in my posts. I realized that just as soon as I hit publish. I apologize again, here is the link to that photo of the Hillendahl cemetery in the old Spring Branch Kmart and Firestone shopping center.

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    8. Yes you can send the screenshots to southernmalls@gmil.com.

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    9. You made some pretty good points about the Walmart near Willowbrook. There were plans to redo FM 1960 near that railroad bridge that were scrapped. If the Walmart had been built closer to FM 1960, it would have cut into their parking if the bridge had been built.

      Speaking of lone lines, the West Rd. Walmart had 2 lanes open on Black Friday at around 10pm a few years ago. 2 Lanes on Black Friday was inexcusable, we waited over 45 minutes to check out that evening. We should have just left, but we had spent a while getting our items. It was the last time we have shopped at that store though. I don't know why Walmart management cut front line labor for so many years, it was a huge issue.

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    10. No worries about the links, I appreciate the time you take to send us the articles.

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    11. Did you get the e-mail with multiple pictures? If there are some missing, please tell me which ones that you actually got so I can send you the other ones.

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    12. Yes I did, thanks for sending those over. The Toys R Us especially was cool to see. I can identify the building at Townsen and 1960 as Garden Ridge Pottery after it closed the first time. It later reopened as a Garden Ridge after being a church for a little while.

      I like the Westheimer corner with the Hollywood video, I have shopped at that Movie Exchange back in the day. The Toys R Us on Bunker Hill is where I got some Sega video games on clearance that I still have today. I am not sure what was on that corner of the shopping center, it was vacant for a very long time. The whole shopping center was demolished not too long ago for a new high-rise development.

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    13. Which West Rd. Wal-Mart did you have the poor experience at, the I-45 one (the Greenspoint area one near Fry's) or the 249 one? I have not been to the new 249 location yet. I wouldn't say that I was a heavy Wal-Mart shopper 5-10 years ago, but I would shop there at least once every month or two. After several poor experiences in around 2014-2015 with very long lines when Wal-Mart would only keep one or two checkouts open, experiences which I know you had as well, I really stopped going to Wal-Mart with any regularity.

      Like I said a few days ago, I have not been to a Wal-Mart since June 2019. That one visit may have been the only visit to Wal-Mart I made in all of 2019. I think the checkout situation might be better now than it was in 2014-15, but obviously they have not totally figured this situation out given the problems you had on the evening of Black Friday. Although I do shop at Target more often than I shop at Wal-Mart these days, I don't shop at Target all that often these days either.

      Yes, you're right about the FM 1960 rail crossing issue. I think that may have caused Toys R Us to relocate, but ultimately nothing was done in that area. Still, the traffic concerns were a really big deal in that area in the 1990s so perhaps Wal-Mart prepared themselves for possible road expansion by building their store away from 1960 a bit. Wal-Mart was and still is such a big deal that people will know it's there even if they don't have ideal visibility from the road.

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    14. It was the one on I-45 and West Rd. Walmart management has focused on checkout efficiency, so it is not bad like it used to be. I am sure there are still issues at some stores, but it has been a while since we went to checkout lanes that had more than 3 people in line. Self checkouts have been expanded and they are more accurate than before so they require less employee intervention to fix issues.

      That FM1960 railroad bridge plan would have really messed up that area. They should relocate those tracks to a less busy stretch of FM1960. There is a lot going on near the former Toys R US and Walmarts in that area.

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    15. Funny how when I went to the Willowbrook Walmart closing sale, I don’t think that they had any of the classic red, yellow, and black store closing signs. I think they just had white paper with black words printed on in, showing the discounts.

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    16. They were putting them up when I visited a couple of days after the sale started. They had just taken down those blowout sale signs that were handwritten.

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  5. Now it is a Big Lots. At least 2 former Toys R Us locations were turned into a Big Lots in the Houston area that I know of. The old Willowbrook one near Willow Centre Drive, and the one featured in this article. I don’t know if this counts, but a former Babies R Us on Hollister and West Tidwell was turned into a Big Lots, but the Big Lots closed a few years back.

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    1. Ollie's may be the next company to take over former Toys R Us locations. Ollie's has been expanding into Texas. They are similar to Big Lots from what I hear, but they have a lot of random things for sale.

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