The Kid with A lot to Say

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Thursday, November 25, 2010


Repost:Turn that Frown Upside Down:Lionel Playworld

This entry was originally posted on August 2,2009.

1987 Lionel Playworld Commercial.

Does anybody remember Lionel Playworld? I sure do! They had more inventory than Toys R Us. I was fortunate enough to visit Lionel Playworld in the 1980s and 1990s. Thinking back almost 22 years, it was the best toy store in the U.S. It was in the summer of 1987 that my Mother and I visited the Lionel Playworld located at the Village at Eastpointe on Gateway East. It was the one and only Lionel Playworld in El Paso. I could not believe the size of the store. Any toy that your heart desired was available at Lionel Playworld. There were many isles full of toys for children of every age. Lionel Playworld continued to operate into the 1990's.

It was around late 1991 that Lionel filed for bankruptcy. When that happened, Lionel decided to have all of their stores merchandise liquidated. The one and only Lionel in El Paso started liquidating their merchandise around September or October of 1991. When that happened, I bugged my mother to drive me to Lionel immediately. I ended up buying a lot of baseball cards and toy cars. Surprisingly Lionel had a large selection of sports cards and sports memorabilia. If I can remember correctly, the sports related merchandise was located across from the main entrance. Eventually Lionel Playworld closed around November or December of 1991. Other store locations in the U.S. closed around the same time. The Lionel Playworld location remained vacant until 1995. In 1995 it was turned into a twelve screen one dollar movie theater. So can a toy store like Lionel Playworld succeed in 2009? I seriously doubt it. Toys R Us is almost as large as Lionel was. They are struggling to stay open in 2009. With online retailers like Amazon and Overstock, there is no need for large toy stores anymore.

I was reminded by a few relatives that Kay Bee Toy store was also a great toy store. In all honesty, as a kid growing up in the late 80s, I realized that Kay Bee was no competition for Lionel Playworld. Kay Bee had a very limited selection of merchandise. Eventually Kay Bee met the same fate as Lionel Playworld. A few years ago, all Kay Bee stores closed their doors to the public. As I said in 2009, large toy stores are a thing of the past. It is sad to say it, but it is true.


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