At the Toys “R” Us in Times Square — a place where everyone feels like a kid again — it was a day filled with mixed emotions knowing that when the clock strikes 6 p.m., its doors will shut for good.
Customers lined up Wednesday morning outside the store located at 1514 Broadway to get into the shop featuring a 60–foot Ferris wheel and floors filled with toys of every kind.
However, this day was different as shelves were emptied out and parts of the popular toy store were closed off to customers.
Toys “R” Us Corporate confirmed that Dec. 30 would be the official closing of its flagship store in the Big Apple-- after the company decided to not exercise its option to renew the lease at the site.
“We have not signed a lease agreement for a new flagship location at this time, but we are actively searching for another location in Manhattan. The process is ongoing,” Toys “R” Us Corporate said in a statement.
This news hit some customers by surprise, while others made the trip to Times Square Wednesdays specifically to say farewell to what some call a landmark.
“I literally can’t believe this is closing,” said Sarah Ward, 20, from Orange County, NY, who has been coming to the store since a little girl. “It’s disappointing because little kids won’t have a big toy store to go to and run around in.”
To add the Ward’s disappointment, her favorite section of the store — the Barbie dream house — was closed off and emptied on Wednesday.
Dina Vaughan from Philadelphia has come to the Toys “R” Us for the past 10 years with her twin sons — making sure it is always their first stop in New York City.
“I’m surprised and sad,” said 14-year-old Liam Vaughan, whose favorite piece in the whole store was King Kong climbing the 20-foot LEGO Empire State Building. “It’s a great store and very big.”
As the teen walked away with his family, he whispered to his mother if they could ride the Ferris wheel — now that it would be their last chance.
For some customers, Wednesday marked their first time ever stepping into the toy store.
Seven-year-old Elizabeth LaPointe was waiting to ride the Ferris wheel and said she was mad the store was closing because it was her first time.
Her parents planned the trip from Rome, NY after hearing from a friend on Christmas Eve about the closing.
Riding the Ferris wheel with Elizabeth were Betty Andre and her 5–year-old granddaughter Emma from Monroe, New Jersey, who they met while waiting in line.
After finding out about the closing Tuesday night, Andre added the visit to the toy store as part of their New York City visit — which was a present for Emma.
"If they’re going to move it somewhere else, it makes me not that sad. It’s a landmark,” Andre said. “Hopefully they will open somewhere else with the Ferris wheel.”
However, the customers weren’t the only ones feeling sad for the toy store’s closing.
Employees were seen throughout the three levels hugging and taking photos together-- and some even shed some tears.
One employee was even overheard saying to another “it’s going to be hard.”
Toys “R” Us opened its flagship store at the 101,00-square-foot location in 2001 and, according to Forbes, decided to not renew its lease due to rent at the site reportedly doubling in the last 15 years.
Gap has signed the lease for the prime four-leveled Times Square spot and plans to divide the location into two for its Gap and Old Navy stores, Fortune reported in June.
By: Angy Altamirano, Metro New York