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Toys 'R' Us stores to close forever Friday

Shoppers walk into a Toys R Us store in San Antonio in this file photo.

Geoffrey the Giraffe hits the unemployment line next week.

The mascot for the Toys 'R' Us chain that provided squeals, joy and countless Christmas presents for generations of kids will have to use his long neck to look for new work when the 200 remaining stores close for good Friday.

Toys 'R' Us, known for its "I Don't Wanna Grow Up" jingle, will shutter its store at 2020 E. Lincoln Highway in the Merrillville Plaza across from the Southlake Mall in Hobart and the Babies 'R' Us at 1335 E. 79th St., by Costco, in Merrillville. 

The Michigan City Toys 'R' Us shuttered in January.

New Jersey-based Toys 'R' Us, the largest toy store in America, filed for bankruptcy last fall after losing ground to competitors like Amazon and Target and being saddled with $500 million a year in debt payments by new private equity owners, including Bain Capital and KKR.

The toy store where many had fond childhood memories announced in March it would close after 70 years.

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It's one of many recent retail closures in the Region during the so-called "retailpocalypse" that's claimed brick-and-mortar retailers around the country as a growing number Americans shop online. Other recent closings in Northwest Indiana have included Best Buy, MC Sports, Sears, Kmart, Gander Mountain, Sports Authority, HHGregg, Charming Charlie, Gymboree and Rue 21. Carson's also is in the process of shutting down department stores in Hammond, Hobart and Michigan City.

Liquidation sales at Toys 'R' Us' remaining locations have been ongoing since mid-March. Everything that's left is now marked down by 50 to 70 percent.

Your childhood may now officially be over, but there's still some hope for the old Toys 'R' Us buildings. Party City announced it would launch at least 50 Toy City pop-up stores in former Toys R Us locations across the country this fall, but wouldn't say if that includes any Region locations.

"The company will announce a full list of the exact locations as we get closer to the pop-up store openings in September," Party City spokeswoman Brittany Fraser said.

More business openings and closings from Joseph S. Pete

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Business Reporter

Joseph S. Pete is a Lisagor Award-winning business reporter who covers steel, industry, unions, the ports, retail, banking and more. The Indiana University grad has been with The Times since 2013 and blogs about craft beer, culture and the military.