Toys R Us still exists!

While Bain Capital destroyed Toys R Us in the United States, and shut down all of their stores nearly 5 years ago, Toys R Us in other countries were left untouched. Toys R Us International had separated from its American parent prior to the Bain Capital purchase. So, if you're able to travel abroad, you can still visit one of my favorite stores of all time.

No place is this more true than Toys R Us Asia, the most successful branch of the international division, according to the Internet. In particular in Japan, you can easily find a Toys R Us store in most malls. However, directly north of Nagoya, just south of Komaki, along the road underneath the Nagoya Expressway is a special place.

It's a rare standalone Toys R Us location, outside of the mall and other shopping centers. Here's the location in Google Maps.

This particular store is the Toys R Us that time forgot. From the outside to the inside, it's like stepping back through time 20 years.

All of the aisle fixtures and shelving are exactly the same as they were when I worked at Toys R Us from 1997 to 2000. Those fat heavy off-white metal shelves with three teeth that fit into the aisle. That off-white peg board in the back. The plastic covers hooked to the very top shelves for signage and concealing extra product.

Even though they are painted white, the peg hooks are identical as are all of the price labels on them. The rollers for the diaper rack are identical. Those metal price frames are the same too. The bike racks. The stroller aisle. They even had the old tickets for video game systems!

All of the prices were printed on white paper instead of yellow. But other than that, it's a near replica.

The check out lines were identical too, with the exception of the updated cash registers.

It's pretty amazing how everything is still intact like it hadn't been touched in the last 20 years.

Again, of Japan's 150+ Toys R Us locations, 99% of them are located in malls and shopping centers. I'm pretty sure that the mall locations don't have the same shelves and aisle fixtures. At my Toys R Us (25 years ago), each section of the aisle with those shelves were 4 feet across. "Merchandise the aisle 4 feet at a time," the old manager would say. I should have brought a tape measure to check if these shelves were 4 feet, but it definitely seemed like it. Japan uses the metric system, so I'm guessing the locations in the malls use more standard Japanese shelves. They wouldn't have defaulted to 4 feet.

Looking at Google Earth, this Toys R Us was here in 2001, which was back before the International Division broke away from the American parent. Much like Costco does today, they probably manufactured all of these shelves, fixtures, and equipment in America and shipped it overseas. In the last 20 years, there was probably no reason to throw out all of this stuff in order to remodel.

This North Nagoya location feels like an island in many ways. It feels like an island in time, obviously. But there's nothing else around the area, either. You HAVE to drive to get here, and specifically drive to this location. With nothing else around, this isn't really an impulse stop. There's plenty of parking. The roof is a parking lot, too!

Despite my photos, many families still come here looking for toys, bikes, and other baby gear. It took me a while to get some photos without people. Actually, I never took photos of the bike area because there was always someone there. So, this location must still be pretty profitable. Makes sense if they're not actually spending any money updating the infrastructure.

I don't know if the trip to this location would actually be worth it, but if you have deep nostalgia for Toys R Us in the 2000s, and you happen to be driving north out of Nagoya, it could be worth a stop. :)

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