After more than 70 years in business, the country will soon lose one of its most iconic brands, Toys R Us. The major retailer announced it would it close its doors and, unfortunately for Midlothian residents, the closure hits close to home.
One of the larger Toys R Us distribution centers — an 800,000-square foot facility opened in June 2001 on more than 90 acres — is located in Midlothian at 3800 Railport Parkway. According to a 2010 Daily Light article, the facility served a six-state area that included Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Mississippi, and Louisiana.
The retailer officially stated plans to liquidate the inventory in all of 735 stores in the U.S. and Puerto Rico. Store closing sales have already begun.
Midlothian Economic Development President and CEO Larry Barnett stated Toys R Us had been longtime corporate resident in the city. Its loss will be a difficult one to digest.
“We are disappointed to hear Midlothian will lose one of its longstanding existing industries in the next 60 days. Employees are always the first concern in a closure such as this because of the potential disruption to families,” Barnett said. “When a closure occurs, the Workforce Solutions of North Central Texas attempts to work with the company and their employees to provide assistance in finding new employment or upgrading skills to become more employable.”
Barnett added that these conversations and notices with and by the company regarding assistance from Workforce Solutions have already begun.
Midlothian City Manager Chris Dick shared Barnett’s thoughts about the closure and what the loss will mean to the community.
"Midlothian is always disappointed to lose one of its existing industries and good corporate citizens. Of utmost concern is the employees and the potential impact on families,” Dick said. “The exact impact to the tax base is not yet known. Obviously, we anticipate a decrease in value and will continue to monitor the situation and prepare accordingly.”
According to the Ellis County Appraisal District website, the distribution center has a valuation of $44,451,350 and the 90 acres it is built on is valued at $22,357,680.
Of those two totals, Ellis County receives $251,349.28 in property tax from the land and the building, while Midlothian School District receives $912,009.43, the City of Midlothian receives $419,431.95, and the Ellis County Lateral Road receives $23,413.74.
These amounts are estimated for 2018.
A representative from the Ellis County Tax Assessor's Office stated Toys R Us has paid its property tax for 2017. She added the tax bill for 2018 would be issued in October. The bill would go either to the person or company listed on the deed or who the court designates.
Barnett stated since the initial conversation with the company centered around how to find work for displaced employees, Midlothian Economic Development has not discussed the future of the facility. He noted that the square footage and the height of the structure allow for reuse to be very flexible.
The announcement of the Toys R Us closure has already drawn attention from interested parties, he added.
“Midlothian Economic Development routinely promotes the vacant industrial property, and we will do the same in this case, as we attract new industrial clients to our two industrial properties — RailPort Business Park and Midlothian Business Park,” Barnett explained. “We will work to replace the losses in revenue and jobs by attracting a new company to Midlothian.”
The closures in the U.S. have also generated concern about the company’s operations outside of the country.
Through its website, Toys R Us stated it is pursuing what the company has deemed a “going concern” by reorganization the sale process to find buyers that will continue to run stores in Canada, Asia, and central Europe, which includes Germany, Austria, and Switzerland.
The Toys R Us statement also notes the company has other international operations in Australia, France, Poland, Portugal, and Spain. Whether or not the company will continue those operations is also under consideration.