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.”
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.