Hi. My name is Abi, and I’m registered at Babies “R” Us — and I’m freaking out. This may sound silly, but after being a die-hard Toys “R” Us kid, I was so excited to register at their baby store once my husband and I finally got our big fat positive after trying to conceive for years. After going into Babies “R” Us countless times over the years and fawning over the baby stuff for all of my friends and family, finally I was going to be the one registering there and people would be picking out cute stuff for my baby. I was stoked. I couldn’t wait to park in the “expecting mothers” parking spot, like "beep beep! I’m an expectant mother!" That is, until the whole thing came crashing down.
Soon, the Babies “R” Us stores and those coveted parking spaces will be no more, since the Toys “R” Us company — along with Babies “R” Us — is liquidating and closing all 800 of their remaining stores.
And I'm freaking out.
When my husband and I first walked into Babies “R” Us to register, it was exhilarating and scary as hell walking through the store with our registry gun. We were excited, yet terrified, because we had no idea what we were doing, no idea which stroller or car seats were best, or what kind of bottle nipples we should get — there are so many to choose from! And forget about the crib. Which one is safest? Do I want a solid back or a paneled back? How the hell would we fit this thing into our Volkswagen hatchback?
Thankfully, we had a lovely Babies “R” Us employee there to help us with any questions we may have. That was at the beginning. Unfortunately, since the liquidation and closings began, the poor employees are now frazzled to say the least, and rightfully so.
There were bare shelves everywhere, nothing was where it was supposed to be, and they were out of basically everything on our registry.
So when we heard that some of the stores may be going out of business, my husband and I decided to go back to our store and try to take advantage of some of the deals for big-ticket items such as the crib, bassinet, and swing — careful not to bug the employees working who were stressed out enough not knowing how much longer they’d have their jobs while also dealing with the chaos and cleanup of people picking the store clean like Black Friday.
To say it was a shitshow is an understatement. There were bare shelves everywhere, nothing was where it was supposed to be, and they were out of basically everything on our registry. No crib. No bassinet. No swing or bouncer. They didn’t even have the crib sheets or baby shampoo and towels we wanted. Breast pump accessories? Forget about it. I had a mini meltdown in the store, sat my seven-months-pregnant butt onto an empty shelf where the car seats were supposed to be and started to cry. I told my husband how worried I was that our baby wasn’t going to be able to have everything he needs, and that it was too late to go back now, since our shower is so close (in two weeks at this point). How were our friends and family supposed to shop for things in a store that doesn't exist?
He comforted me the best way he could, and reminded me that just because they’re out of everything at this particular location (and as I’d later find out, all the other locations), there were other options for finding all the baby things. Even if we had to buy all of it ourselves. We may have to refinance our house, but damn it, we’ll make sure he has what he needs. Thankfully, we both have good jobs. And I'm aware that being upset that friends and family can't buy stuff for our baby — that we might have to buy it ourselves — is an example of a first world problem (#FWP), but I blame the hormones, OK?
And while I may be freaking out, I can’t even imagine how Babies "R" Us employees are feeling right now. It seems like certain stores are still in limbo at the moment as to whether or not they will be closing sooner rather than later, since the company is keeping a few hundred open in the hopes buyers will purchase those remaining outlets.
Toys “R” Us has more than 30,000 employees, according to the New York Times. That is, 30,000 people will be out of a job soon. To me that's more heartbreaking than anything else. The Washington Post reported that Toys “R” Us said they will be paying their employees for another 60 days, at least. But that still makes it hard for even the part-time people to start looking for other jobs. If you’re living paycheck to paycheck, you don’t simply take time off to go to job interviews or work on your resume. They are simply the latest victims of a changing market and the rise of e-commerce — a New York Times article defined this situation as “a textbook example of disruption by internet retailers.”
If you’re registered at Babies “R” Us currently, you may notice that many of your items are also no longer available — even if you try to order them online and have them shipped.
So yes, I am freaking out that one week before my baby shower I have to register somewhere else and we still don’t have a crib, or any other furniture for my unborn son who is due in May. If you’re registered at Babies “R” Us currently, you may notice that many of your items are also no longer available — even if you try to order them online and have them shipped. And if they can be shipped, it has to be to your house — an act of optimism that they’d even be able to follow through with the order, since it seems like the company is going under quickly.
As we found out last night, our crib is discontinued — even on Amazon for some reason — and while we could pay a ton to have it shipped to our house from Babies "R" Us, we are afraid to spend that kind of money on a gamble that the crib may not even arrive. We’d have no recourse if it was damaged and we needed a refund or to return it. And if it didn’t show up, what then? The website said it would take at least three weeks to get to our house, and who knows if there would even be a Babies “R” Us left to "talk" to if the crib didn't show up or it was damaged?
As far as the registry rewards gift cards and registry completion discounts (another reason my husband and I decided to register for everything solely at Babies “R” Us) a USA Today article reported that the company will be honoring gift cards for the next 30 days, and a representative for Toys “R” Us responded to an email from Romper that “rewards points can be used until next Wednesday [March 21] and any completion coupons for registries are still being accepted.” However, how long those completion coupons will be accepted was not detailed. And since I’m due in May, I have a feeling we won’t be able to take advantage of this “perk” we were promised when we registered.
So far, we don’t have any bottles, a crib, a bassinet, a swing, or accessories for my breast pump. We don’t have a changing pad or changing pad covers, and we also don’t have any baby wipes or diaper cream. The sense of "THIS IS FINE, THIS IS DEFINITELY FINE" provided by our registry was liquidated at the same time Toys "R" Us went under. I know it sounds petty, but I am preparing for a baby to arrive! And there are others like me! And we are freaking the hell out!
So for now, my husband and I will try to take advantage of the discounts on the few items they have left this weekend, and look elsewhere for the rest of our must-have list — and potentially register there, too, just in case. And while I looked forward to taking my kid to Toys “R” Us to have the same experience I was fortunate enough to have when I was growing up, I guess I’ll have to find something else. Browsing online just isn’t the same. Plus, he will never know the joy of hearing that it was a little boy or girl’s birthday over the loudspeaker in a Toys “R” Us store, and skipping along to the birthday song. And no Geoffrey the giraffe. That hurts my heart a little — actually, a lot — because I hoped my kid would be a Toys “R” Us kid, like I was.
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