The building looked the same on the outside. Kid-friendly bubble-letters labeled the building: Babies R Us/Toys R Us. Signs advertising brands like Graco and Britax were still displayed in the windows. But there was one difference–now there were also giant-sized banners announcing “FINAL 7 DAYS! EVERYTHING MUST GO!”
My eight-year-old daughter clutched my hand as we entered the store. The same fluorescent lighting. The same tall shelves stacked high with toys greeted us as we entered the store. But it only took a few seconds to realize that all around the edges of the massive box store, shelves had already been cleared.
Initially, my daughter and I both hustled about. Marveling over the great deals. My daughter, at eight, had saved up a whole $24 for this trip and was thrilled at what her earnings could now buy her.
“Wow! Only five dollars for this chess set?!”
“Mom! Mom! Look at the HATCHIMALS! I have enough to buy TWO sets of mini-eggs!”
We bounced from display to display, but soon we reached the end of the toys–and the beginning of the empty part of the store.
Construction-worker tape marked off whole aisles and sections of the store that were already cleared. Beyond the first few rows of cheerfully decorated packaging and signs was just, empty. Off in one corner, the lights weren’t even turned on.
It felt sad.
As we rounded the corner, toward the Babies R Us side of the store, I had a sudden jolt of nostalgia. I remembered going to Babies R Us for the first time, when I was pregnant with the big kid now jabbering about “great deals.” I remembered how I felt entirely out of place, an imposter, the first time I went into one of those stores. The memory was so strong, I could practically smell the baby supplies.
Suddenly, I had this ridiculous urge to find a baby aisle with that smell. The baby smell. A thought crossed my mind: What if this was the last time I ever stepped foot in any baby store? My kids were big kids now, after all. And, are there any other baby-stores to shop at aside from Babies R Us? Not in my small town, there aren’t.
We went up and down the toy aisles a few times. My daughter had found what she was looking for. Loaded with “Hatchimals,” a “minion” stuffy for her brother, and a Pie In the Face game, we headed for the cashier aisles so she could spend her allowance.
“Wait, honey, there’s one more thing,” I said vaguely, as I tugged her in the direction of the few remaining baby aisles. We walked slowly up and down each aisle, me sniffing the air carefully.
Darn. It was already gone.