Friday, May 1, 2020

Toys R Us OST and Fannin Houston Tx

Here is a Toys R Us location near the Texas Medical Center and NRG Stadium. This store closed on June 29, 2018 on the final day of operations for all United States Toys R Us locations.
This was an awesome location to visit especially in the final days because the whole store was open with no barricades. 

My first visit to the store was early on in the sale when the store was mostly full. The store closing signage at this point was limited. This location was a good alternative to the busier locations and was one of the cleanest locations I have been to.
I did my best to capture every section of the store. The photos speak for themselves, enjoy.

The LEGO department was really cool, they really went all out to display what you could build. 

NFL and NBA licensed lego toys.

The store also had a Babies R Us department.

Another product that Toys R Us featured a huge selection of. Interactive train displays and a huge wall of Thomas and friends.

Normally the bikes were put together for sale on the floor. At this point in the sale, all of the bikes were put out in boxes unassembled.

Toys R Us also had a good selection of different sports items.

Nerf guns were one of the most popular toys at the time Toys R Us went into bankruptcy.

Even the off brand Fast Lane toys had Toys R Us trailers.

Toys R Us had recently modified the action figure departments to make them more interactive.

The fan vault was an addition to the action figure department and featured collectibles and action figures geared more towards teenagers and adults.

Nintendo Switch was a little more than a year old when this photo was taken. The majority of what was in the case was already sold out. The remaining items were consolidated to other video game cases.
The Animal Crossing amiibos were way overstocked. In 2020, these would be much more appreciated. Nearly every Toys R Us store I visited, had a lot of these amiibos in stock.

Xbox, WiiU, 3DS, and Nintendo Switch games were all consolidated into this display.

One remaining Xbox, for a whopping 5% discount! Games were 15% off, video game accessories 10% off, and systems were 5% off.

As you can see, the display models were already pulled. The remaining ones were for sale at the front desk.
PS4 and PS3 games were limited as well. 

Even at 20% off, movies and music CD's were still overpriced.

Wall of RC cars, just past the video game department.

The video game department here was smaller than most Toys R Us locations. 

2nd to last day of operation June 28, 2018. There is a huge difference in how the store looked at this point. Nearly everything was sold out.
Sparse product selection at this point.

Thankfully the liquidators did not barricade the store, so you could roam freely throughout the store.

I wonder if this balloon is still stuck. 
Baskets filled with random leftovers. 

Last day of operation June 29, 2018. 
Even though only a day passed, the store seemed much emptier than the day before. Maybe it was because I knew this was the end.
Lots of noise from shelves being taken apart and hitting the ground could be heard. 
Besides the small amount of inventory, the store was empty except for the fixtures. It was a sad, yet perfect way to see the store. You could almost imagine that the store looked similar to this prior to opening for the first time. Empty shelves waiting to be filled with product. Anyways, enjoy the rest of the tour.

The saddest part of the store, the now empty video game department.

I was not the only person in the store, but there were not too many people still here. The employees were cool with letting me and a few others get pictures.

One chapter of Toys R Us history ends and another begins. The new TRU kids brand that acquired the Toys R Us name has been bringing Toys R Us back to life. On November 27, 2019 in New Jersey Toys R Us reopened their first retail store since the liquidation. is also open for business once again, and partnered with Target to fulfill orders. Pictured here is the second new Toys R Us location in the Houston Galleria that opened on December 7, 2019. These new stores are only about a quarter of the size of the older Toys R Us locations. The Houston Galleria store will be featured in a later blog post so please stay tuned. 


  1. If you could travel back in time, what year would it be? Now take the year you chose and list the top 3 stores you would visit. Here is my list: Year, 2008. The stores, Blockbuster, The Willowbrook Circuit City, and the Greenspoint Sears.

  2. Actually, instead of Blockbuster, I’ll choose the Willowbrook Walmart.

    1. You can still visit a Blockbuster if you travel all the way to Oregon, lol.

    2. I know, that is why I changed it,

  3. 1995 Montgomery Ward, Kmart, and Sears. This was the year was just before Sears, Kmart, and Montgomery Ward all began renovating stores. Kmart stores still had the original logo in multiple locations with a few neon road signs.

    1. You know how after Kmart merged with Sears, that Kmart started selling Sears brands. Well what was sold where the Sears stuff is sold now? For example, what was sold where the Craftsman stuff is sold now in the pre-merger era.

    2. The product lines across Kmart have shrunk over the years to make way for the Sears items. Electronics, furniture, and sporting goods were moved out of the way for the Sears products. Video games were also removed and were replaced with appliances starting in 2014. A lot of enclosed electronics departments were opened up to join the rest of the store and to create more space for appliances and mattresses. Craftsman replaced the Kmart tool brands they had at the time. Some items like paint and several automotive items were slowly eliminated as the Craftsman inventory increased.

    3. 1995 would not be a bad choice. Electric Avenue at Montgomery Ward was still a happening place in 1995 and Sears was still pretty strong. Best Buy and Circuit City would be around, but so would Service Merchandise and a few other electronic stores. Of course, I believe the Houston Incredible Universe opened in 1995 and then closed shortly afterwards so that would be a good year if you wanted to see that. The Houston MicroCenter in their original location opened in the fall of 1994 I do believe so that would have been brand new. Venture and Auchan would still be around as well and all the mall department stores would still have electronics departments in 1995 except for JCPenney.

      Kmart was already swirling the drain in 1995, but Kmart was busy with a lot of changes in the Houston area around that time. Some stores were already closing around that time due to poor performance and then in 1997 several locations would move to the new ex-Venture locations. The Super Kmarts were opening around that time and Kmart was still building new Super and non-Super stores at that time in Houston, but it was clear that Wal-Mart and Target had superior operations at that point. I'd say if someone wanted to see prime Kmart, they'd have to go back to the 1970s or 1980s. Kmart was already desperately looking for answers around the time that they changed their logo in 1990/1991.

      So, yeah, I think 1995 is a great pick for a year. I'd probably go back a little further to maybe sometime in the 1980s before big box stores were really taking a big bite out of the department stores. The department stores were really something else in those days. Of course, if you go back too far, stores like Sears only sold their own brands so it might not be preferable to go back too far.

      Kmart sold tools before the merger with Sears. I don't remember what brands they sold, but they were probably Stanley, Black & Decker, and stuff like that. Kmart actually owned the Builders Square chain of large hardware stores which were like Home Depot and Lowe's up until the latter part of the mid-1990s. Thus, they had pretty good access to major paint and hardware brands. Kmart also had their own auto centers and I know they were big on selling Exide car batteries before the Kmart auto centers were taken over by Penske and then eventually closed. Kmart still sold/sells DieHard car batteries though.

      I think Kmart sold major appliances in the 1960s and 1970s, but Kmart didn't sell those again or mattresses until after the Sears merger. Even Builders Square did not sell appliances. Home Depot didn't either. I think Lowe's was the hardware chain that really emphasized appliances and then Home Depot copied them in the early 2000s.

    4. Anytime between the 1980's and 2000 would be a good time to go back. A lot of chains were still going strong or just about to disappear around that time. You can also see the malls in their earlier days.

    5. About Electric Avenue - I don't know why Ward's never spun it off into its own electronics store. From what I know it had better name recognition/public opinion than Wards itself and could have been formidable competition to Circuit City/RadioShack/Best Buy.

      Who knows, it may have even outlived Wards itself.

    6. It is strange that barely any photos exist online of an Electric Avenue inside of a Montgomery Ward location. Montgomery Ward had a really good electronics department in the 80's and 90's. If I remember right, they did not have Nintendo products and carried Sega, Turbographix, and Tiger electronics video games only up until their last few year of business.

    7. Montgomery Ward did actually try two different forms of standalone electronics stores in the mid-1990s. The more known attempt was their purchase of the Lechmere chain in 1994 that lasted until Lechmere failed under Montgomery Ward's 1997 bankruptcy. Lechmere was a chain that was mostly an electronics and appliances chain by the end, but they also sold things like sporting goods. They were owned by Dayton Hudson, who owned Target and became the Target Corporation, for some number of years until 1989. Lechmeres were mostly located in Massachusetts, but they had locations all along the East Coast including in the Southeast. Here is a Lechmere commercial from the Wards era featuring Bill Parcells and showing some shots of a Lechmere store. Electric Avenue had similar style ads, but the Wards ones usually featured Scottie Pippen or Mike Ditka (the latter of whom might have caused je not to shop at Electric Avenue, lol). Here is another Lechmere commercial which actually uses the Montgomery Ward Christmas jingle music which can be heard here.

      Also in 1994, Montgomery Ward opened some stores called Electric Avenue & More. These stores, which did not carry the Montgomery Ward name, sold electronics, appliances, furniture, lawn & garden, and VHS taoes/music CDs. These were mostly located in small towns that were too small for a Best Buy or Circuit City. Here is an article about the concept and even a mention that two of the initial stores were opening in a former Wal-Mart and a former Phar-Mor.

      I'm not sure how well these standalone stores did for Montgomery Ward. Wards was in such poor financial shape that they probably could not expand these stores like they would have liked to. Also, Best Buy and Wal-Mart were putting on intense competition on standalone electronics stores in that era. Tandy's attempts at standalone electronics stores aside from Radio Shacks like Video Concepts, McDuff, Incredible Universe, and Computer City, were all failures.

      Actually, Montgomery Ward did sell both Sega and Nintendo games. I'm not sure if they sold any other more obscure game systems. I do remember that I found Sega Master System games at the Willowbrook Mall Electric Avenue well after the Master System was an obsolete system. I remember finding and buying games there in what was probably the Sega Saturn era. Anyway, here is a hilarious short in-store video Montgomery Ward had showing their video games during the 16-bit era. The announcer is clueless about video games and the kid in the purple shirt will probably deny any involvement with the production of that video, lol. Also, just as a fair warning, there is a short clip of Mike Ditka at the end of that video.

    8. I totally forgot about Lechmere. I never had the chance to visit their stores, but it looked like an interesting concept to shop.

      Best Buy pretty much killed off their competitors by taking advantage of the missteps of Circuit City and later Hhgregg. Together with Walmart and Target, the 3 stores have pretty much eliminated any sizable competition except for regional chains like Conn's.

      I appreciate you sending over those commercials. It is always interesting to see what the technology was back then.

      For some reason I didn't remember Montgomery Ward having Nintendo items. For a time I can remember department stores like Macy's, Foley's, Sears, and Montgomery Ward having different video game systems featured. I bought most of my Nintendo stuff back then from either Sears or Toys R Us.

    9. Lechmere was an interesting store. It was basically a department store with just hardlines. By the time Montgomery Ward took them over, they were mostly just an electronics/appliance store with some other departments which Montgomery Ward was pretty experienced with like lawn & garden. Here's a great Lechmere commercial from 1986. This was from when the chain was owned by Dayton Hudson/Target. Obviously, these stores were more upscale than Target. Wouldn't it be great to shop at a store like this today?

      Best Buy had a very aggressive pricing strategy that other chains found hard to compete against. Best Buy was known for luring customers in with at-cost/below cost CD and movie sales and then they'd sell those people something greater that had bigger profit margins. In fact, a lot of the TVs and computers they sold had razor thin profit margins, but they made it up by selling accessories, warranties, and stuff like that. Circuit City was their biggest competitor for a while, but it always felt that Best Buy had the edge. Then, Circuit City blew what chance they had by eliminating appliances in what was a very foolish decision.

      There were many regional electronics store chains back in the day, but few of these have survived. P.C. Richard & Sons, a Circuit City-like regional chain, has managed to stick around in the Northeast US. Fry's is hanging by a thread. Conn's big advantage is their in-house credit arm which makes them a relevant option for those with bad credit, but Conn's doesn't have the higher-end electronics like they used to have.

      I do remember video games at the various department stores. For whatever reason, I have no recollection of video games at Foley's, but I'm guessing they did have them. I do remember the original Macy's selling video games up on the third floor of what is now the Dillard's at Willowbrook Mall. I think I may have purchased a Sega Master System game or two from up there. As for Dillard's/Joske's themselves, the only video game system I remember specifically seeing there was the Philips CD-I system which they had prominently displayed around the time we purchased a higher-end TV from Dillard's in around 1993. The CD-I was a rare thing and it was really more than just a game console, but it was probably too much too soon given the high price on it.

      I'm not sure what all video games these stores sold. I'm guessing that if a store did not have Nintendo games in the late 1980s/early 1990s, there was no point in selling video games at all. They were certainly the dominant brand with the NES, GameBoy, and SNES. Only the Sega Genesis was much of a success for the other brands in between the Atari/Commodore and PlayStation eras. Toys R Us was certainly the go-to place for obscure systems I remember seeing things like the Atari Jaguar there. I do remember Kay-Bee Toys having video games at the mall as well. I also remember Wal-Mart and Target being pretty strong players with the Sega Master System. Wal-Mart especially emphasized their Master System demo system in their electronics department, but they obviously had Nintendos as well I'm sure. It was probably at a Wal-Mart of all places that I realized the technical superiority of the Master System over the NES.

    10. Too bad I missed out on Lechmere, they looked like a really cool place to shop. Then again, I did not have a lot to spend back in those days, so I would have just mostly browsed.

      I almost forgot about poor Fry's. They have been quietly closing locations, even before the Covid retail shutdowns. I don't think that I have heard of P.C. Richard and Sons. Time to find out what they have to offer, especially if they are like Circuit City.

      Foley's had some games at the Deerbrook Mall location, but they were not front and center. The first place I tried out a NES with Super Mario Brothers was at the Greenspoint Mall Foley's. I remember that moment very well, the console was set up on the second floor across from the toy department at the time. This memory was one of the main reasons why I wanted to see the second floor of the store. Most of the second floor was closed off in the late 80's, so I was hoping to see some of the old department designs still intact.

      Kaybee actually stopped selling Sega games in the 90's after issues with the launch of the Saturn. Circuit City also did not carry Nintendo games until their final years of business.

      There were a lot of systems launched in the 90's that did not make much of an impact. I had a few of the portable one and the popular SNES. I later got a Genesis once the prices came down on the system. Now we can set up a Raspberry Pi or emulator to get all of these games on a computer. Nothing beats the real games on an old school tube TV, but it is too expensive to collect these days.

      There is a literal tital wave of department store info in the past few days. JCPenney is late on 2 major creditor payments and may file for bankruptcy this week. Stage stores will reopen their stores by June 4th, but to liquidate unless a buyer is found. They are filing for chapter 11 bankruptcy. Neiman Marcus filed for chapter 11, and Lord and Taylor may file chapter 11 and liquidate their remaining stores. Nordstrom is closing 16 stores, one in Texas.

      With all of that terrible news, at least our last 2 local Sears stores opened back up on May 9th.

    11. Stage Stores, which owns Gordman’s, Stage, and Palais Royal, is liquidating.

    12. I saw the news today. It is truly a sad turn of events for the company. I hope another chain purchases the rights to the chain and keeps as many stores open as possible. The company was just too late with their attempt to rebrand all stores in their Gordmans format.

    13. I think that the Almeda Mall and Northwest Mall locations closed. I don’t know if they closed at the same time. I think I remember that they did.

    14. Northwest closed mid 2019. I am not sure exactly when though. I haven't been to Almeda Mall for about 3 years now. I need to drop by one of these days.

    15. I never shopped at a Lechmere either so I cannot comment about what their stores were actually like, but I will say that as impressive as a lot of these 1980s electronics stores were, they weren't always that great of places to be. Many of these stores, especially places like Highland and Federated, employed high-pressure, commission-based salesmen who acted like car salesmen. They would watch you as soon as you entered their store and would ask you all kinds of questions to gauge your interest in buying things and your ability to pay for them. It wasn't very pleasant, obviously.

      Stores like Circuit City had commission-based salesmen in their earlier days, but they weren't as high pressure. One annoyance I remember about Circuit City, at least in the earlier days with the older plug style stores, was that you had to walk past the TV, VCR, and Hi-Fi salesmen just to get to the back of the store where they had CDs, small appliances, and stuff like that. I remember times when I was just wanting to go to those back departments, but I was annoyed by salesman in other departments who were trying to size up my interest in buying other things. Also, those commissioned salesman wouldn't want to ring up sales of non-commissioned items. They'd do it, but not always so willingly. I remember buying vacuum cleaner bags or something one day from Circuit City and I suppose the non-commissioned registers were all closed so I had to go to a commissioned department to pay for it. The salesman was looking all around to find another clerk to ring up the purchase, but couldn't and he had to do it himself with some level of annoyance.

      Sears and Montgomery Ward also had commission-based salesmen in the electronics department. Sometimes their salesmen were annoying, but they were more open to browsing. I do remember that Sears appliance salesmen were sometimes more arrogant than Montgomery Ward ones. I think one of the big advantages Best Buy had is that they would allow people to walk in, browse, or do whatever they liked without really bothering them. Service Merchandise also had a very calm atmosphere.

      P.C. Richard & Sons has a few locations in old Circuit City locations. I'll link to the Google page here for one of the locations in Connecticut. The first thing I noticed was that they had a 4.9 out of 5 user rating even with 4,712 user reviews. That's amazing, even beloved retailers in Houston like HEB can't touch that. That's really good when you consider all the things which could go wrong with things like appliance and furniture purchases like missed appointments and backorders. They must have great customer service. Also, if you go to the photos section of that Google page, you'll see that this P.C. Richard store still has some Circuit City interior pieces like the flooring for the racetrack that goes around the store. It is a nice looking store.

      Those are some good Foley's memories. I actually don't remember much about the Greenspoint Mall Foley's electronics department. I have much stronger memories of the furniture department up there. We used to go there to look at furniture because they had a lot more than the Willowbrook Mall Foley's.

      The Sega Saturn was a failure in many ways so it wouldn't surprise me if retailers starting shunning Sega after that. While the Master System, Game Gear, and Dreamcast had some success, only the Genesis could be considered a big success in the US at least. Retailers had to take the Genesis seriously, but otherwise it was understandable if retailers ignored the others. Even then, Genesis extensions like the 32x and Sega CD were big failures so I'm sure retailers were let down quite often by Sega products which didn't sell well. Still, I do remember the Dreamcast being more prominent in retailers than the Saturn was so at least retailers were willing to give them another chance.

    16. The Lechmere commercial in 1983 shows the tool department and more things I did not even realize they had. That would be a store that I would frequent especially if they had decent prices.

      I remember the Circuit City stores having those salespeople issues. I had a similar experience at the Greenspoint Mall store. That plug style store had a wall in the middle of the store so you had not choice but to walk around through other departments. The smaller plug style stores were wide open, but you still had to walk through the higher priced items to get to the CD's, movies, and video games in the back.

      I remember the Service Merchandise and Sears electronics department salespeople very well. I can't recall me or my family ever buying a large ticket item at Montgomery Ward. Since I was younger when those stores were expanding here in the area, I didn't get much interest from salespeople thankfully.

      P.C. Richard must have a very good sales staff to have ratings like that. Usually only small local stores have those kind of ratings. I will certainly enjoy taking a look into a former Circuit City location. I can't think of any former Circuit City location that has not been repurposed entirely here in the area.

      The furniture, housewares, and clearance department were the only things open on the second floor of the Greenspoint Foley's until Macy's took over and closed the rest of the floor off. That was such a huge store, that the first floor seemed like an endless journey at times. The second floor was just too much for most people to explore. I know there were a lot of changes up there over the years, and then it was just mostly closed off.

      The Saturn recently turned 25, so it makes me feel old. I remember how cool it was back in the day. My friend had the internet keyboard and it seemed insane that he could go online with his game console. The Dreamcast was a very good system, it sold relatively well. Sega had so many financial issues, that it had no choice to stop production of the system. The Saturn and the Genesis add-ons had taken away a lot of money that the company needed to make the Dreamcast a success. The Dreamcast holds up pretty well in competition to all consoles from that generation including the PS2.

    17. Yes, I remember those older plug-style Circuit City stores quite well. After you walked in through the plug, there was the big wall of VCRs and camcorders which blocked your way through the rest of the store. To the right was a little walkway which went to the back of the store past the car and home stereos. On the left was the big TV department and the other little walkway. One of the salesmen from those departments were sure to stop you if you tried to go past to see if you wanted to buy something from those back departments. Oh well. The wall of VCRs was really quite something though. I'm sure everyone remembers the first time they stepped into one of those plug style Circuit City stores if they got them in the late 1980s/very early 1990s. Most stores don't have such a shocking first reaction I'm sure.

      I don't know if you heard about it, but the new coach for the New York Giants, Joe Judge, actually made a Circuit City reference in his virtual press conference with the press yesterday. He was talking about their videoconferencing mini-camp and said the following: "We’re not going to evaluate a football team based purely on how they are on a computer. We can go down to Circuit City and find a great football team on a computer."

      Giants fans are poking fun at him saying that he must not get out much if he doesn't realize that Circuit City is long gone, lol.

      I hope you liked the photos of that P.C. Richard & Sons. You're right that usually only mom & pop type stores get ratings like that. I suppose it goes to show that some chains still put an emphasis on good customer service. It's a shame we don't have any regional electronics store chains like that in Houston. If you look at those photos, you'll see that the red racetrack walkway has the same 'Lego-like' flooring with the round dot texture that Circuit City had in those older plug style stores.

      You're right that it was possible to get lost in the vastness of just the first floor at the Greenspoint Mall Foley's/Macy's. The same was true at the Almeda/NW Mall Foley's even though those stores were smaller (though certainly not small). I'm sure I saw the full second story of the Greenspoint Foley's at some point because we shopped at Greenspoint Mall a lot back in the day, but I just can't remember it aside from housewares and furniture. It's a real shame how Macy's let that store rot before it was finally closed. Even Lampert would have been embarrassed by the condition of that store in the last few years it was open. The sheets or whatever they used to block the second floor was just a sad thing for many reasons.

      I actually purchased a Dreamcast since they were selling them so cheaply for a while just a few months after it came out. A lot of people did buy them and liked them. It has a good reputation still. The Saturn was such a disaster that I remember that EA would not make games for the Dreamcast so Sega has to launch the 2K sports games. I had an Internet keyboard for my Dreamcast since it came with a 56k model and I did surf the web with it. The browser it came with was basically limited to 1997-era web technology so it wasn't all the useful.

      Speaking of useless things, I also have a Panasonic FZ-1 3DO game console which was basically the Saturn disaster before the Saturn even came out. Oh well. I got the 3DO used so I certainly didn't lose a lot of money on it. I knew someone with a Saturn and he liked it, but it was just left in the dust by the Playstation. Even the immense hype of the N64 couldn't topple the PSX.

    18. That P.C. Richard store helped me remember the setup a little better as well. I noticed the floor as well, not many places use that type of floor these days.

      I do like the coaches reference. If he finds a Circuit City, hopefully he lets us know where it is. You do want a coach that is more worried about football than knowing about electronics stores. I still refer to blue light specials or cheap stuff as Kmart quality, lol.

      Those Almeda/NW Mall Foley's stores were huge as well. I wish that I would have documented the second floor of those stores before they were closed off. My 2008 era photos were terrible so it would not have done the stores justice.

      I have a Saturn that I can't find my CD jacket of games for. It worked a couple of years ago when I last had the games. There are a few titles like Sonic 3-D that were decent for the Saturn. I wanted a Dreamcast when it was a new console, but it was too much for me at the time. I decided to wait for the Gamecube once that system was announced and saved up for it. I was not disappointed, but there are several Dreamcast titles like NFL 2K that interest me.

      I can't say that I have ever tried out a 3DO. I have watched several YouTube videos about the system and why it failed. They are collectors items these days. I also owned a PS1, but it only worked if you turned the console upside down after you loaded the CD. I have a N64 also, but I only liked a handful of games on that system. The N64 graphics were not very good in comparison to the Saturn or PS1.

    19. Who knows, maybe Joe Judge will find a Circuit City in New York/New Jersey. The reborn hhgregg did open their first store in New Jersey last September. The new hhgregg is a very small store though, it's only 2,000 sq. ft. so it's not a whole lot bigger than an old RadioShack. The new hhgregg is unaffiliated with the old bankrupt one. You may remember that the people who purchased the Circuit City had similar plans, but I don't know how that turned out.

      I do think that Kmart suffered a perception problem back in the 1960s-1980s. I'm sure you remember that people were used to shopping at department stores back then and were somewhat leery about the quality of discount store goods. Kmart was obviously the discount store icon at the time so there were many jokes about Kmart quality and blue light specials. Kmart's products weren't bad though all in all and they were generally better than some of the Tozai-grade stuff Wal-Mart has sold over the years. Still, that fact didn't stop kids who wore those Kmart brand Trax athletic shoes from being mercilessly teased at school for wearing blue light specials, lol. Kids who wore Sears Toughskin clothes back in the day had to have tough skin to endure the jokes as well. Discount store shopping is so common now that I doubt the kids make jokes about it. Maybe the kids who shop at the wrong online stores get teased these days, who knows.

      Do you still have those 2008 photos of the Northwest/Almeda Mall Foley's/Macy's? I'd love to see them even if they aren't great photos.

      On the topic of the NW/Almeda Mall Foley's, those actually opened as ~200k sq. ft. stores and then received large expansions to ~300k sq. ft. in around 1974-5. The expansions were done so well that it's hard to tell that those stores were ever added on to. The expansion part at Almeda is even harder to detect than the NW one. If you look at the aerial images of the NW store, you can tell that about a third of the ex-Foley's has a different roof than the part of the store closer to the mall. That's the expansion part. I suppose the whole Almeda store got a new roof after Ike so it's harder to tell from the aerials, but there is a bit of a ledge on the roof around the expansion seam. Also, on the exterior walls, there is a tiny seam that's almost invisible if you don't pay close attention. Again, it's more visible at NW because the bricks don't exactly match at the seam area. At Almeda, the bricks between the old and newer part match almost exactly. The difference in bricks at NW is so slight that you might not notice it unless you know about it though. The South Belt Memories blog has some photos of the Almeda expansion in 1975 here towards the bottom of this page. There are also some interior pictures of the Foley's from around 1975 on that link as well.

      I hope you can find your Saturn games. PSX/PS1s were known for being a bit unreliable. I believe PS2s play all PS1 games though so I'd probably just get a PS2 if you're interested in playing PSX games. I actually bought a relatively new music CD last year which came on a CD with a completely black bottom like those PSX discs.

      Nintendo made a critical mistake using cartridges instead of CDs for the N64. Cartridges were much more expensive to make and they had a fraction of the storage capacity.

    20. I didn't even know hhgregg is back. That store does sound a lot like what the new version of Circuit City wanted to open up. I am going to look that store up. Looks like the hhgregg website is back up as well.

      I never knew that those stores received expansions. At 300,000 square feet, the stores were almost as big as the interior mall. I have walked around the Northwest store several times, I am surprised that I never noticed those details. I know the Sharpstown store also received an expansion and that store I believe was well over 300,000 square feet.

      I need to look into my archives to see what I have. Around the time I started the blog, my material dried up fast and that is when I really started documenting better. I am not sure if I took photos until after those stores were closed/remodeled after Ike. I will let you know if I find any.

      I do have a PS2 slim, but it is collecting dust like most of my systems. I need to invest some time in building a gaming setup to give me an excuse to fire up these old systems again. I may not keep my Saturn if the games do not come up, it is a bulky system. Most of the games I had besides Sonic, have PS1 versions that are nearly identical.

      Nintendo pretty much does what they want with their game formats. When they finally upgraded to CD's for the Gamecube, they used mini-discs. Now they use a proprietary SD card like cartridge for their games that is expensive to produce. It is very expensive to upgrade the card from their standard 8gb to 32gb. Most games only use the 8gb cartridge for the basic game and you download the rest for the entire game. Nintendo just has games that are so fun to play, that most of us fans overlook their quirks. This current Nintendo console has already sold more units than the N64 and Gamecube combined. They may even pass up 100 million consoles sold if they keep their sales up for another 3 years.

    21. Yes, it is odd that the new hhgregg managed to get a store opened before the new Circuit City even though the new Circuit City had a lot more publicity. Around the same time that the new hhgregg opened in New Jersey, RadioShack opened their first new corporate-owned (I think) store in Ft. Worth near their old headquarters. As far as I know, RadioShack has not opened any other stores like that since, but it would be nice if we could get stores like that here again especially since our HobbyTown with the RadioShack Express closed last year. I'll include links to the hhgregg and RadioShack articles below.

      Link to the hhgregg article
      Link to the RadioShack article

      You're right, it took just about as long, if not longer, to walk those Almeda/Northwest Mall Foley's as it did to walk the whole interior part of those malls! Those stores were massive and were full of creeky parquet floors by the end. Like I said, if you can find those photos, I'd love to see them even if the quality is not great.

      The Sharpstown Mall Foley's expansion seems to be better-known than the expansions at the Almeda/NW Mall twins. Of course, the Sharpstown Foley's was even bigger than the Foley's at the twin malls and it might have been a tad bigger than the Greenspoint Mall Foley's as well. The expansions at the twin malls was done so well that I don't think anyone would guess that the two parts of those stores were built some years apart. Even at Northwest Mall, where the difference is a tad bit more visible, I doubt you'd guess that there was an expansion if you didn't already know it. It's a bit surprising that Foley's thought those two locations needed to be expanded in 1974-5 since more upscale malls were already opening or were in the works, but I suppose those stores did very well and Foley's was optimistic that the success would last.

      The Dreamcast was actually the only console from the Dreamcast/PS2/Xbox/Gamecube era that I got new. I was given a used original Xbox and some games for it during the Xbox 360 era. Like your PS2, it's just collecting dust. The original Xbox was certainly not slim though! That was a monster-sized console.

      Console video games became more complex and adult-oriented (or teen-oriented at least) during the PSX generation. In that regard, console games became more like PC games. While Sony and Microsoft have certainly continued that trend into the current times, Nintendo has seemingly tried to keep their games more family-oriented and they keep their games more to the point. That has given them their own niche which they have been extremely successful with and all kinds of demographics seem to enjoy their products. Without that, they would be competing in a segment where there just isn't room for three similar rivals. It's too bad Sega could not find a similar niche which would have allowed them to keep selling consoles, but oh well. Sega just didn't have the business strategy that Nintendo did. Perhaps the relative failure of the N64 helped Nintendo realized the need for creating a unique quality to their games.

      I do remember those mini-DVD discs that the Gamecube used. I remember there being some controversy at the time because Gamecubes could not read audio CDs and DVD movies like the PS2 and Xbox could (I think the Xbox needed a remote accessory to watch DVD movies). In the end, I don't think that really mattered all that much because DVD players and CD players were starting to become really cheap around that time. OTOH, I do know some people desired early generations of the PS3 because they could play Blu-Ray movies and Super Audio CDs (along with regular CDs, of course). Sony eventually removed SACD capabilities from the PS3.

    22. Thanks for sending over those links. Radio Shack was a very popular store in Ft Worth so they can probably do good business there. If anything, they could market the store as being the last true Radio Shack store.

      Foley's locations were huge. Even the downtown store that closed had a lot of floors that were turned into offices. I am not sure if I ever walked through the entire Sharpstown store, it was the largest store the company had. Parts of the building have been reopened, so it might be worth checking out soon.

      The N64 and Xbox controllers never felt good in my hands. I never really gave those systems a chance. I have some N64 games downloaded on my WiiU console since the gamepad is much more comfortable to use.

      It is funny how Nintendo has been able to do their own thing for all of these years. Even the latest Switch console has now sold more units in 3 years than the N64 and Gamecube combined.

      I do remember the controversy with both the N64 and Gamecube for not using normal CD's. Even the later Wii console could not play DVD's, but by then it was not an issue. The Wii was such a game changer for Nintendo that people did not mind not having a DVD player on the console. We certainly got our money's worth on our first and then second Wii.

    23. Unfortunately, all of the Houston-area GamePlus stores and Movie Exchange locations have permanently closed. GamesPlus was a store that sold retro and new video games/movies and Movie Exchange sold the same stuff, but was centered more on movies/tv show discs. The only store of this kind that I know of left in the Houston-area is Game Over Video Games.

    24. That is not good news. I guess I am guilty of being part of the reason why these places are gone. We used to frequent these stores, but it has been years since we bought movies. Half Price Books is another option for used movies and video games thankfully. Game over video games is an awesome store, but they sometimes have prices that are way too high.

    25. Oops, I forgot that Half-Price Books sold that stuff. At least that means that at least two chains in Houston still sell this stuff.

    26. Maybe they could have survived if they had movie rentals. They served a niche market, one that has a continuing drop in interested customers.

    27. Movie Exchange also sold used music CDs in addition to movie discs. I remember the Houston Chronicle doing a fairly lengthy article about Movie Exchange a couple of years ago and they were basically wondering then how a chain like that could survive. Well, I suppose they hung in there as long as they could, but the current situation is just too much for them to overcome. They say that some shoppers are now reluctant to purchase used items or open items that anyone can just touch. It also didn't help Movie Exchange that some of their locations are in prime spots where the rent was probably not cheap.

      Half Price Books is certainly an alternative. Thrift stores also have no shortage of used DVDs, PS2/PS3 era video games, and CDs. They also usually have a number of VHS movies as well, but probably half the VHS tapes they have are of the movies Speed, Jurassic Park, Titanic, and a few other blockbuster hits. Oh, Richard Simmons work out tapes aren't uncommon either, lol.

      The problem with buying used CDs/DVDs from a thrift store is that the discs are often badly scratched. I know places like Movie Exchange would buff out scratches, but obviously thrift stores aren't going to go through that hassle. Also, it's not uncommon for thrift stores to sell CDs/DVDs where the disc in the container isn't what the outside of the container says it is. Sometimes the containers don't have any discs in them. So, yeah, if you buy stuff like that from a thrift store, check to make sure the actual item is there and that it isn't too badly scratched.

      While I have seen some questionably scratched CDs being sold at Half Price Books, they do usually at least check to make sure the right disc is in the box. One time I wanted to buy a CD from HPB, but I noticed that there were two CDs in a one CD box. It had the CD I was expecting and also a completely different CD. When I went to the checkout, I told the clerk about the situation and they were rather confused about how that could have happened. I suspect a customer must have done that, but I don't know.

      Anyway, maybe used video, music, and gaming stores can make a bit of a comeback once things settle down a bit. These are going to be niche stores though and they'll probably have to operate out of second or third tier shopping centers instead of being in busy areas like where some of the recent used media stores have been in the recent past.

      I do wonder how the independent music stores are fairing under the current conditions. Some of these stores, like that one off of Louetta, had questionable cleanliness to begin with so those concerned about such things probably weren't shopping there anyway. Of course, people aren't out as much and they don't have as much to spend so that isn't helping when people can stream music for free or with a subscription they already have. I still like buying physical copies of music though so I hope these stores stick around.

    28. And I forgot Game World, a video game/movie store that is located in Willowbrook, Deerbrook, Greenspoint, and Woodlands Mall.

    29. CD's were probably their best sellers. I still buy used CD's every now and then because my car has a CD player. I would not make a special trip down there, but I would stop by if I was in the area. They did have a decent video game selection, but their prices were generally higher than most used video game stores.

      The good thing about stores like these are that you can really find a pleasant surprise from time to time. I remember one night when I went to Half Price Books and someone had just unloaded a really cool tape collection. I snapped up several tapes that I had been looking for during that visit. I know you can go to Ebay or other sites, but many retro items are sold for a premium there.

      Half Price Books will continue to survive so I can see them picking up some business from the Movie Exchange closures. Maybe Traders Village will wind up being a spot where more used media is sold in the future. There were a few places that had small collections for sale.

    30. Game World is a decent video game store. I have bought a few games from them over the years. The store in Deerbrook opened just before Christmas and reopened on day one once the Covid restrictions were lifted.

  4. I actually did not know that Toys R Us had a location near the Astrodome. This looks like a classic Toys R Us location so it must have been there for quite some time. I suppose I just never noticed it. It looks like you were able to get some good before and after pictures to see what a liquidation can do after just a few weeks. These are good photos, thanks for the post.

    It seems like the only New York Giants stuff you've been able to find are at Toys R Us stores! That photo of sports Legos (well, they are knock off Legos actually it appears) shows just how quickly the sports landscape changes. The photo is from 2018, but obviously Odell Beckham and Tom Brady are no longer with the Giants and Patriots. Also, that NBA Best of the Eastern Conference set would look rather silly now because only one of those five players, Kyle Lowry of the defending champions Toronto Raptors, is still playing in the Eastern Conference. If the original Toys R Us was still around and if they still had that merchandise, they would certainly be marking it down aggressively. I suppose selling sports stuff with specific players and teams is tough because players change teams so frequently these days.

    I find it interesting that the liquidators put a sign on that big Duracell display saying that it would be great for shoes. I wonder how many people have that many shoes that they'd need a big display like that.

    My first thought was that this abandoned Toys R Us location would be a nice location for Big Lots, but it seems Big Lots already has a store across the street in the Fiesta/ex-Kmart shopping center. Oh well. Speaking of that Fiesta, it appears that it's still got the neon and 1980s look to it. That would be a great store to document for the blog. I have been to that Fiesta before, but it was many years ago.

    1. This was not a very well known location since it was in an odd spot away from most of the retail centers near the Astrodome area. I first went to this location in the mid 90's when Kmart was still in the shopping center with Fiesta.

      I need to go to that Fiesta since it has/had a lot of neon. I took a lot of photos of the Astrodome in 2008 when the complex was still open for walk through visitors, but I neglected to document the Fiesta.

      You are right about the players changing teams frequently. It seems like the NBA and NFL have a ton of player trades or free agent moves happening more often these days. I made sure to document the sports items at the Toys R Us sales since they are interesting timepieces of how the leagues were at the time.

    2. I think the Astrodome Fiesta has a pretty similar design to the Fiesta store on Bellaire Blvd. & Highway 6. It appears both still have a pretty similar design on the inside with neon and such based on Google Maps photos, but there are more photos of the Astrodome location on Google. If I had to document one of those two stores, I'd probably pick the Astrodome location due to the legendary location of it, but that Highway 6 store was pretty remarkable when it opened as well. That shopping center it is in was really something when it opened. In an era before powercenters, that was one of the biggest shopping centers I had seen to that point in the late 1980s especially since part of it was two stories. I believe Target was the other anchor, but I don't know when it closed. I probably went to both the Fiesta and Target in the early days of that shopping center. There may or may not have been a Phar-Mor there, my memory is a bit shaky about that.

      The FM 1960 W & Kuykendahl Fiesta also had a similar design to these above Fiestas if I remember correctly. That Fiesta was briefly the closest Fiesta to me before the Willowchase Fiesta opened a year or two later. I remember really being wowed by the Kuykendahl Fiesta when I went to it right after it opened. The design was really quite futuristic and upscale. In many ways, that design of Fiesta still feels futuristic and upscale even though it'll be 35 years old in just a few years. It's really something worth documenting.

      It might be worth making a post about the Astrodome at some point if you have good photos of it. I know this is a retail blog, but the Astrodome was such a big part of Houston for so many years. People who are under 25 years old probably have no recollection about the place even if they were born and raised here. I was fortunate enough to attend one of the games from the final regular season series the Astros played in the Astrodome in 1999 against the Dodgers and Coca-Cola was giving away commemorative glass bottles to those who attended those last games which I still have. I probably still have the ticket stub and I'm pretty sure I took some photos on film of the place knowing that it would probably be the last time I ever went in the place.

    3. Those Fiesta stores still wow me to this day. The neon, high ceilings, 3-d signage, and the product selection still seems massive especially in the produce aisles.

      I missed the few opportunities to enter the Astrodome in the past few years. I don't have any good interior photos. Maybe they will let the public in again before they redo the building, if that ever gets done. I don't have any photos that would be worth a post at this point. I would love to go inside if the opportunity arises.

  5. Nice tribute to TRU. And neat that the employees were cool with people taking pictures, too.

    As for the time travel question... probably for me I'd just choose three specific Kroger stores I've been to (Stateline, HL, Tupelo), but either didn't document extensively or entirely before they remodeled. So, 2015 or before. Besides that though, it would have been cool to see some Seessel's stores when they were still operational, Blockbuster Music, and I'm sure tons of others that aren't even coming to mind right now...

    1. Blockbuster music was an awesome store back in the day. There was an old one operating in Baton Rouge. Even though FYE took it over, it had not been substantially remodeled since taken over. Thanks for the praise, make sure to check out the video from the store linked above if you have not already.

  6. If I visited a Toys R Us on the last hour of the last day of business and if I grew up in the 1990’s and if I was a kid at heart, I think I would pretend to shop there, imagining the shelves still had merchandise and the pretending to checkout my imaginary items. I would also just walk around the store, going down memory lane.

    1. I spent a while walking around the store on both of my visits. On the second to last day, I was unsure if I could go back on the last day. I was able to go early in the day around lunchtime so I could experience the store one final time. All of the other locations that were still open had barricaded most of the store off, so this was the only store you could roam freely inside of.

  7. You would think that retail around sports stadiums would sell a lot of team merchandise, like with all of the shopping and retail near NRG Stadium. I would think that they would have a good selection of Houston Texans stuff.

    1. Some of the retailers nearby like Target have some extra team merchandise. I am not sure if Fiesta or Kroger nearby have any extra merchandise, it has been a very long time since I stepped in either store near NRG.

  8. This is a really cool article I found

    1. That is pretty cool. A store in McAllen had the letters to Toys R Us in their window.

  9. It would be cool if you could get a degree at a school for retail history, so it would be an actual profession. It would also be cool if you could depend financially on this blog entirely, kind of like YouTube.

    1. There are enough books and research you could do that would probably equal a 4-year degree. I wish that this blog could make me money, but I do it for the adventure.

    2. It would also be cool if there were official groups and societies for retail history, like how The Audubon Society is for birds.

    3. There is the Deadmall Discord that is represented by the majority of the retail bloggers and vloggers. The deadmall discord has a ton of conversations going on at any given time with new and historical photos being shared constantly. If you have not joined, it is the pretty much the official group that you are looking for.

  10. the TRU @ OST/Kirby had been my go-to toy store for eons. however, things changed quite a bit when they changed upper management, and i quit shopping there once the decline in customer service became seemingly irreversible.

    back in the early 2000s they had a serious LP problem (as many of the retailers did in the area).

    i used to be the GM (for a short time) @ the GameStop across the way in the strip anchored by Fiesta. we would frequently have TRU employees try to trade-in/sell hot merchandise from that location, and the others they covered shifts at.

    it was really disappointing to see just how prevalent the theft @ many TRUs really was. i was not at all surprised that they (as a whole company) went bankrupt. it's hard to pay your bills when a third of your staff is robbing you blind.

    1. I worked at the Olive Garden in front of the Fiesta in that same center for a time. It was when the Reliant Park redevelopment was finishing up. That area changed dramatically within 5 years after the stadium was built.

      I noticed in the last few years of that TRU, the store was cleaner and well stocked. A lot of items were locked in cases though, so you had to find an employee to unlock just about everything in the electronics department.

      A lot of retailers understaff their locations so it makes it more difficult for management to catch employees stealing. That and the historically low pay of retail jobs makes it tempting for employees to steal.

  11. In regards to the Houston Galleria location you mention at the bottom of the post: I've just found out that both it and the other new TRU store (in Paramus, NJ) seem to be closing down. I'm sure the experimental nature of the stores and overall store and mall closures have greatly affected business during the pandemic, but it's still very sad to see this happening so soon after the stores opened. Hopefully the new Toys "R" Us company will still stay around, even without the (admittedly limited) physical presence, but I guess we'll just have to wait and see what happens.

    This is the image that was shared, which appears to come from Google Maps: (...I suppose I could've just pinged you on Discord instead, but I'm already most of the way through this comment, so oh well :P ) Reviews on Google as well as comments on the two stores' Facebook pages seem to confirm the stores are closing. I don't know when/if a final date is set, but I wanted to let you know in case you were interested.

    1. That picture is truly sad. It seems like the new Toys R Us will never open retail locations again after this experiment. I saw some Instagram photos with the last one being from Jan 9. I could try emailing the company to see if I can get a closing date for the store.

    2. Apologies for being late in replying to this comment, but you may already have heard that the stores unfortunately have already had their last days.

    3. I found the closing dates on an article. It will be strange when I do my post about the Houston store to have the opening and closing dates. The stores seemed to have been more of a photo-op for people than an actual business. We did our part and bought several things. Just about every visit we left with something including a Nintendo Switch on one visit.