Toys R Us to close all remaining stores by Friday
Babies R Us locations will also close by the end of the week, the New Jersey-based company said.
Stores with a lot of inventory are offering 60 to 80 percent discounts. Those with less merchandise will likely close sooner, but discounts are a bit better: up to 70 to 90 percent off, the toy retailer said.
An employee at the Vernon Hills Toys R Us said the store will close Friday while others, including Schaumburg and Gurnee, are expected to close Wednesday.
The company website has a short message thanking its patrons for their years of loyalty. "Promise us just this one thing: Don't ever grow up. Play on!" it says.
Toys R Us filed for bankruptcy about nine months ago. It struggled to pay down nearly $8 billion in debt -- much of it dating back to a 2005 leveraged buyout -- and could not find a buyer.
The company is closing all 800 of its U.S. stores, affecting as many as 33,000 jobs as the company winds down its operations.
One of the big questions since Toys R Us began liquidating its U.S. business earlier this year was which retailers would go after its customers. So far there have been few signs that other major outlets for toys, such as Walmart or Target, were expanding offerings.
On Monday, Party City announced it is taking the plunge and plans to operate 50 pop-up toy stores from September through the holiday-shopping season, possibly in former locations of the defunct chain, executives said. The assortment will include top brands from Hasbro and Mattel and plenty of Santa suits and stockings for Christmas.
Party City is also adding more toys to its website as part of a push into the category. If the pop-up pilot goes well, the company will likely expand the format next year.
"There have been years and years of a stand-alone toy store that is now gone," said Ryan Vero, Party City's president of retail. "Customers are going to be looking for something to fill that void, and we intend to do that."
The company considered the strategy for several years and then accelerated plans with the struggles of the last national toy chain, whose jingle "I don't want to grow up, I'm a Toys R Us Kid" became part of the American lexicon in the 1980s.
In addition to its more than 900 stores, including franchises, in the U.S. and Canada, Party City has been running temporary Halloween City locations for the past decade. Last year, about 250 pop-ups generated $54 million of the company's $2.37 billion in total sales.
• Bloomberg contributed to this report.