We visited 3 Toys R Us stores that are about to shut down - and it was a depressing look at a business at its end

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Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

The Toys R Us stores we visited were an absolute mess.

  • Toys R Us announced in March that it would close or sell all 735 of its stores in the United States.
  • Going-out-of-business sales began shortly after the announcement. The sales will last until stores run out of inventory.
  • To see what the stores are like as they near closing, we visited three different Toys R Us locations in New York City.

Toys R Us filed a motion to liquidate its business in the United States in March, just five months after filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Toys R Us' liquidation includes plans to close all 735 of its remaining stores, with going-out-of-business sales now taking place at all of its US locations.

In late March, we visited a Toys R Us store in Yonkers, New York, that was part of an earlier round of store closures, and it was a grim look into the company's future.

As more Toys R Us stores prepare to close their doors, we visited three different locations in Queens and Manhattan. The stores were in a depressing state - lights were flickering, there were stacks of boxes everywhere, and empty shelves lined the walls.

Here's what it was like:

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The first Toys R Us I stopped at was in Rego Park in Queens, New York. It was part of a busy shopping center that also had Costco, Kohl's, and Bed Bath & Beyond stores, as well as a number of other massive stores.

The first Toys R Us I stopped at was in Rego Park in Queens, New York. It was part of a busy shopping center that also had Costco, Kohl's, and Bed Bath & Beyond stores, as well as a number of other massive stores.

The outside of the store was plastered with signs advertising up to 40% off everything and new merchandise daily.

The outside of the store was plastered with signs advertising up to 40% off everything and new merchandise daily.
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The store looked surprisingly full when I walked in. There were bright signs advertising the going-out-of-business sale, and there were a lot of people shopping.

The store looked surprisingly full when I walked in. There were bright signs advertising the going-out-of-business sale, and there were a lot of people shopping.

As I walked through, I noticed some aisles of the store looked pretty desolate.

As I walked through, I noticed some aisles of the store looked pretty desolate.
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The bike rack in the back of the store was nearly empty ...

The bike rack in the back of the store was nearly empty ...

... and there were piles of boxed-up merchandise all over the store.

... and there were piles of boxed-up merchandise all over the store.
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It was hard to navigate through the maze of boxes. It seemed the store had more in stock than anyone knew what to do with.

It was hard to navigate through the maze of boxes. It seemed the store had more in stock than anyone knew what to do with.

There were some aisles that I couldn't walk all the way through because there was too much blocking the path. Shopping carts holding store fixtures and empty boxes were left everywhere.

There were some aisles that I couldn't walk all the way through because there was too much blocking the path. Shopping carts holding store fixtures and empty boxes were left everywhere.
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Some boxes were torn open with toys piled up on top. They were often left sitting in the middle of an aisle.

Some boxes were torn open with toys piled up on top. They were often left sitting in the middle of an aisle.

The merchandise that was actually taken out of the box wasn't any better.

The merchandise that was actually taken out of the box wasn't any better.
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Toys, clothes, and books were everywhere, leaving the store a disorganized mess.

Toys, clothes, and books were everywhere, leaving the store a disorganized mess.

Every single item in the store was marked down, and signs like this one were hanging in every aisle, listing how much each product was discounted. Some products were individually marked with additional discounts.

Every single item in the store was marked down, and signs like this one were hanging in every aisle, listing how much each product was discounted. Some products were individually marked with additional discounts.
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Even tablets, video games, and other electronics were marked down as much as 30%.

Even tablets, video games, and other electronics were marked down as much as 30%.

Only one register was open, and there was a handful of abandoned shopping carts by the exit. The store was in absolute disarray.

Only one register was open, and there was a handful of abandoned shopping carts by the exit. The store was in absolute disarray.
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The next Toys R Us I went to was also in Queens, in Long Island City. It was almost a mile from the nearest subway, sitting at the end of a strip mall on an otherwise quiet block. The parking lot was huge, with just a few idling cars and trucks. The Toys R Us felt forgotten before I even walked in.

The next Toys R Us I went to was also in Queens, in Long Island City. It was almost a mile from the nearest subway, sitting at the end of a strip mall on an otherwise quiet block. The parking lot was huge, with just a few idling cars and trucks. The Toys R Us felt forgotten before I even walked in.

My first impression was similar to the first Toys R Us I went to. The store looked surprisingly full, and bright signs regarding the clearance sales were plastered all over.

My first impression was similar to the first Toys R Us I went to. The store looked surprisingly full, and bright signs regarding the clearance sales were plastered all over.
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There were a few empty shelves, but not quite as many as were at the previous store I visited.

There were a few empty shelves, but not quite as many as were at the previous store I visited.

Like the previous store, there were just a few bikes left on display.

Like the previous store, there were just a few bikes left on display.
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Boxes were stacked everywhere ...

Boxes were stacked everywhere ...

... and aisles were often blocked by boxes and shopping carts.

... and aisles were often blocked by boxes and shopping carts.
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Much of what was left sitting out was torn or broken.

Much of what was left sitting out was torn or broken.

The further I ventured towards the back of the store, the more eerie everything felt.

The further I ventured towards the back of the store, the more eerie everything felt.
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Some lights were flickering, and others were out completely. There was no one in sight, and music from the '90s was playing softly in the otherwise silent store. It was a depressing shell of what Toys R Us once was.

Some lights were flickering, and others were out completely. There was no one in sight, and music from the '90s was playing softly in the otherwise silent store. It was a depressing shell of what Toys R Us once was.

I spotted a messy shelf of old magazines near the registers.

I spotted a messy shelf of old magazines near the registers.
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Only one register was open. I was happy to be leaving the dismal store.

Only one register was open. I was happy to be leaving the dismal store.

The final Toys R Us I went to was a small express location in the Manhattan Mall. At the time I visited, there were only 11 days left until it officially closed.

The final Toys R Us I went to was a small express location in the Manhattan Mall. At the time I visited, there were only 11 days left until it officially closed.
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Because it was an express location, it was only a fraction of the size of the other two stores.

Because it was an express location, it was only a fraction of the size of the other two stores.

Most of the remaining merchandise was 10% off. There was just a small selection left from each department.

Most of the remaining merchandise was 10% off. There was just a small selection left from each department.
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Behind a wall of boxes, I saw that more than half of the store was empty.

Behind a wall of boxes, I saw that more than half of the store was empty.

Most of the merchandise had already been cleared out, leaving behind nothing but empty shelves.

Most of the merchandise had already been cleared out, leaving behind nothing but empty shelves.
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In part of the store, even the shelves were already taken down.

In part of the store, even the shelves were already taken down.

The shelves and fixtures were for sale in addition to the toys.

The shelves and fixtures were for sale in addition to the toys.
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