Santa Clarita is losing another big-box retailer.
Toys ‘R’ Us, the once undisputed champion of toy sales, the go-to for children of the 1980s seeking the trendiest Barbie or the coolest G.I. Joe and for youngsters of the 1990s searching for the elusive Furby or Tickle Me Elmo, announced Wednesday that it would shutter nearly one-fifth of its some 900 U.S. locations – including its Babies ‘R’ Us location on Carl Boyer Drive.
The Toys ‘R’ Us at Valencia Marketplace in Newhall, however, was not among the 27 California closures. In all, Toys ‘R’ Us will shut down 182 stores, with going-out-of-business sales scheduled to run from February through April.
“The reinvention of our brands requires that we make tough decisions about our priorities and focus,” David Brandon, the company’s chairman and CEO, wrote in a memo to customers. “The actions we are taking are necessary to give us the best chance to emerge from our bankruptcy proceedings as a more viable and competitive company that will provide the level of service and experience you should expect from a market leader.”
Reportedly billions in debt and failing to keep pace with online retailers such as Amazon as well as shopping chains Target and Walmart, Toys ‘R’ Us filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in September.
The decision to close stores was made “following a top-to-bottom assessment of our business,” Brandon wrote. His memo also noted that the company would seek to combine Toys R Us and Babies ‘R’ Us in “a number of locations.”
Toys ‘R’ Us did not immediately respond to The Signal’s inquiry about the possibility of co-branding in Santa Clarita.
The Babies ‘R’ Us closure will be the third significant big-box loss in less than a year for the Santa Clarita Valley, following Kmart’s exit last year and the upcoming departure of Sears from Valencia Town Center.
The town center’s other two anchor stores, J.C. Penney and Macy’s, also face uncertain futures. JCP closed 138 stores last year, while Macy’s finalized plans earlier this month to close 11 stores after shuttering about 60 stores in 2017.
Westfield, the Australian-based owner of 15 California malls including Valencia, has yet to announce its plans to replace Sears.
The former KMart building, at 23222 Valencia Blvd., near Bouquet Canyon Road, appears set to become a furniture store.
Furniture Now Gallery has posted a coming-soon banner on the building, though company officials have not responded to three email inquiries from The Signal over the past week.
The company’s website, www.furniturenowgallery.com, doesn’t include a planned opening date or a phone number. The store’s hours, according to the website, will be 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.