Emeryville Toys R Us among list of announced closures

1 min read

Toys R Us announced its list of store closures yesterday. Sadly, the Emeryville store was among the eight Bay Area stores and twenty-six California stores that will close.

The announcement was a bit of a surprise to workers we spoke with who were personally told a day prior to the public announcement. The Emeryville store combines the corporation’s Toys R Us and Babies R Us brands.

Employees noted there were some anxious days leading up to the announcement and they found out on Tuesday through their manager. They also noted that there was discussion of some sort of severance packaged to entice some employees to stay on board throughout the liquidation process. They said they would know more after a scheduled February 7th meeting.

The New Jersey-based toy retailer operates about 900 stores in the U.S and U.K. and filed plans to close as many as 182 stores last September (about 20 percent of their U.S./U.K. locations). The company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection under the weight of $5 billion in debt. Other Bay Area stores that will close include two in San Jose, Brentwood, Fairfield, Pinole, Pittsburg, San Rafael and Union City.

Nationally, the chain has been hit hard by the ongoing shift to online shopping. The Emeryville store has been hit hard by shoplifting according to an employee on his break that identified himself as Thomas. “It’s been an ongoing problem.”

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Another employee who identified himself as Darrion noted he lived a five-minute walk away in North Oakland. Commuting to the closest store in Hayward, if they offered it, probably wouldn’t be appealing to him. “My next move is to make the rounds around here and fill out some applications,” pointing to the other stores in the East Bay Bridge Shopping Center.

Beginning in February, Toys R Us will begin holding a series of markdowns on most of its merchandise beginning at 20%. The closures are expected by April.

The City of Emeryville announced a series of layoffs and cuts amid ongoing budget pressure from rising pension obligations and declining revenues. Sales tax revenue pays for as much as a quarter of our city services that include police, fire and public works. The City is considering multiple tax measures this election to account for this budget shortfall.

Feature Image: Emeryville Toys R Us employees Glen, Darrion & Thomas.

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Rob Arias

is a third generation Californian and East Bay native who lived in Emeryville from 2003 to 2021. Rob founded The E'ville Eye in 2011 after being robbed at gunpoint and lamenting the lack of local news coverage. Rob's "day job" is as a creative professional.


  1. They closed the least profitable stores (only 1 in 5 were closed). Profitability and labor cost go hand in hand.

    This is your minimum wage ordinance at work. Those getting laid off can thank Dianne Martinez, Jac Asher, and Scott Donahue for their new $0 per hour “living wage”.

    Add them to the list of over 2000 employees in Emeryville whose jobs have been lost or have left the city since the city implemented the highest minimum wage in the country.

    Maybe they can get a job at the New Seasons Market.

    • Oh come on. Brick and mortar is failing everywhere. Emeryville’s labor policies are unnecessarily reckless and likely increased the odds of this location’s closing, but it was going to close at some point anyway.

      • “it was going to close at some point anyway”

        What? Why? 4 in 5 Toys-R-Us stores in the US are not closing. 80% of Toys-R-Us employees still have their jobs, just not the ones in Emeryville.

        Economic upswing. High income area. Good location.

        Emeryville will be near the top of the list every time a major retailer closes stores.

    • As someone who grew up in the Bay Area, I have fond memories of being rewarded with a trip to Toys R Us after doctor appointments that involved getting a shot. Now that I have a son, I was looking forward to sharing that experience with him (not the shot part). It’s not the same letting him browse the Amazon app and getting it two days later.

      As far as the impacts of the Minimum Wage goes, I don’t doubt that this was a factor in which stores they opted to close. Someone would have to do some work to determine if the closures were overwhelmingly in areas with rising minimum wages. California’s wages are slated to hit $15 in 2023, Emeryville’s is already at $15.20 and will likely be $18 in 2023. I’m wondering why they didn’t install self-check kiosks the way other retailers have going to reduce labor costs? Perhaps because people were already using their own method of “self check-out” that involved running out the door. 😉

      One thing for sure is that this store overwhelmingly employed local PoC and they’ll soon be in the unemployment line.

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