Toys ‘R’ Us stores were strange. Whether it was the endless aisle of toys, Geoffrey the giraffe mascot or displays put up throughout the entire store, the vibes there were unlike any other.
There was nothing quite like Toys ‘R’ Us stores and there may never well be, considering they closed them down last year; though photos of the stores will forever circulate online.
For those who grew up going to Toys ‘R’ Us stores, little of it seemed out of the ordinary. When looking back at the stores today through photos, however, they tell a different story. We’re going to uncover some of the strangest photos taken in or around Toys ‘R’ Us stores that show a different, stranger side of this once popular retail chain.
If there are two chains that seem completely unalike from each other, it’d be Toys ‘R’ Us and Hooters. With Toys ‘R’ Us stores closing down across the country last year, it left many properties vacant for other businesses to move in to. According to Web Urbanist, it’s in Fairview Heights, Illinois.
Even Shaq made an appearance at a Toys ‘R’ Us in Mayfield, Ohio back in 2009 when he played for the Cleveland Cavaliers. According to Sioux City Journal, a Marine was pulling him around in a wagon, so it’s possible this was all part of a toy drive or charitable event.
One of the most popular Toys ‘R’ Us stores was the Times Square location. This shows the entrance of the store, but with a twist. In the foreground is none other than The Dark Knight. It’s strange that someone would go waltzing around Times Square dressed up as Batman, who’s debating whether to go in.
17 Putting On A Party
This photo has doctored elements and that’s what makes it look so strange. Staged to look like a party room where visitors can throw their birthday parties, it looks eerie and off-putting the way they inserted people. The dancing giraffe mascot on the stage holding hands with a hesitant kid and another reaching on the left especially look weird.
16 Nerf Blaster
This Toys ‘R’ Us visitor looks more immersed in these toys than even a kid would be. Wielding what looks like a Nerf Blaster, he wears a serious demeanor while aiming the toy. Perhaps he’s plotting to rob the entire toy store with only a Nerf Blaster at his disposal.
With proper context, this photo isn’t so strange. According to Toys ‘R’ Us’ official website, this photo is of Charles P. Lazarus. He founded Toys ‘R’ Us and was responsible for making it the toy chain it became. Yet without this background info, people would just think someone cookie got lost in the stuffed animals aisle.
14 Creepy Barbie
Barbie dolls always had their own aisle at Toys ‘R’ Us stores over the years. This picture shows a much creepier side to the popular dolls, however, as this girl picked up a box only to find a large Barbie head staring back at her through the transparent plastic.
13 Missing Roof
This Toys ‘R’ Us store fell on hard times. This photo from 2003 shows a store in Lanham, Maryland, after its roof collapsed. Snow and rubble caved in and even trickled in to the aisles where visitors walked. What makes it look strange is the drawing of a happy dog above the “Imaginarium” sign amid all the havoc.
12 Destiny’s Child
Toys ‘R’ Us also had its share of celebrity appearances. Back in their prime, Destiny’s Child took a break from performing and recording music to stop by the Times Square Toys ‘R’ Us. According to Sioux City Journal, they went there personally to show off their line of dolls.
11 Sunnyvale Séance
Some odd things have gone on at a Toys ‘R’ Us in Sunnyvale, California. According to The Paranormal Guide, there’s been lots of strange occurrences reported. This photo shows a séance a group of people put on at the store. What’s so alarming about the photo is that no one remembers a figure standing up in the background.
10 Happier Days
This photo was back in 2001 when things looked much better for Toys ‘R’ Us. Since then, the company fell on hard times. Part of what makes this photo so strange is knowing what came of the company. It especially looks odd seeing Geoffrey in a top hat standing next to execs of the company (The Portland Press Herald).
9 Creepy SpongeBob
This little girl looks a little concerned about the display of SpongeBob SquarePants toys. The toy has creepy eyes while playing guitar and the box shows the character looking back at his ripped pants. We can’t blame this girl for looking a little worried, which explains why she went with a Furby instead.
8 Hunting For Toys
Parents used to brave busy Toys ‘R’ Us stores and wait in long lines to get the toys that were in high demand their children wanted. This woman either looks like she’s going through the aisle of Star Wars action figures and talking on the phone to make sure she's getting what her kids want, or else she's an employee on a walkie talkie reporting on what’s in stock.
7 Christina Aguilera
Even pop star Christina Aguilera did her toy shopping at the popular chain. It’s not clear what she already has in the basket, but it looks like she’s strolling down the WWE action figure aisle. With her kind of money, she could buy whatever toy she wanted in the entire store.
6 Pow! Pow! Power Wheels!
Back in 1992, the year of this photo, Power Wheels were the ultimate toy to own. These drivers almost look like adults on highways going through traffic. What makes it strange though is seeing the girl in a car on the second level. Did she drive up there herself? (Sioux City Journal).
5 Giraffe Hug
It’s unclear whether this Toys ‘R’ Us visitor is more stoked about the toys, feeling like a kid again or just embracing Geoffrey. No matter which way one slices it, getting caught hugging a giraffe is going to look strange, especially one that's covered in orange stars that hangs out in a toy store all day.
Toys ‘R’ Us often had bigger than life displays set up throughout the stores. The Times Square store had a giant Superman lifting a truck that hung from the ceiling. From this angle though, it looks as if Superman is saving several checkout aisles from an enormous truck careening out of control.
3 Discounted Poker Chips
Here’s a snapshot of what appears to have been the last days of a Toys ‘R’ Us store. The shelves are empty, there’s caution tape draped up to cordon off aisles and everything is in disarray—except for a handful of poker sets. Not only do they look unusual sitting alone, but no one wanted them.
2 Geoffrey Selfie
Popular selfies are ones taken with family, friends, alone—and supposedly, with the Toys ‘R’ Us giraffe. This visitor didn’t hesitate to grab her camera phone and snap a selfie alongside Geoffrey at the Times Square Toys ‘R’ Us store. With such a long neck though, it proved awkward for Geoffrey to bend down and make it inside the frame.
1 “I’m A Toys ‘R’ Us Kid”
This photo from May 1999 was around the time the first Star Wars prequel came out. It explains why this couple picked up so many action figures, micro machines and podracers from the popular franchise. This couple may be older, but like the Toys ‘R’ Us song says, “I don’t wanna grow up, I’m a Toys ‘R’ Us kid.”
Sources: Web Urbanist, The Paranormal Guide, The Portland Press Herald, ToysRUs.com, Sioux City Journal