Toys "R" Us: Will Darwinian Economics Claim Another Brick-and-Mortarsaur?

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If Tim Burton were to remake THE YEAR WITHOUT A SANTA CLAUS as a dramatic modern tragedy, it might come close to the emotions felt across the country as we await word from toy-selling colossus TOYS "R" US that they will be shuttering their stores across the country.

Should expectations bear out, the 60+ year old company will be the latest brick-and-mortar chain to fall victim to online competition, as parents turn to sites like Walmart, Amazon, and eBay for their purchases. Even the suppliers of toys have become competitors against their customer, with companies like LEGO and Mattel offering direct sales through their websites.

In January, TRU CEO Dave Brandon stated on the company blog that the chain would "continue to operate stores in all major markets across the U.S. and around the world." Two months later, that statement seems to have been overly optimistic.

It's easy to wax nostalgic over the loss of the toy giant. One misses the opportunity to walk among the aisles of new toys that you can see and feel, and even try out for those that were at the demonstration tables, like the Thomas the Tank Engine sets that were always up and available for kids. Unfortunately, too many of us wandered those aisles, held those toys, tried them out, and then checked our smart phones to find cheaper prices online. Which is hardly the customers' fault for seeking out the best deal. Darwinian Economics took a major evolutionary leap with the advent of online merchandising, and the brick-and-mortarsaurs have been slow to adapt. Which doesn't mean there's not an emotional impact on each person -- and a financial one on each municipality -- with the closing of the chain.

Stores that are still open are marking things down deeply, and without a last-minute bailout from some white knight, these might be the last few days you can get a good deal at Toys "R" Us.

They might even be as good as the deals you could get at Amazon.