I was as shocked as anyone when, a few months back, Toys R Us announced it was going out of business. Many of my best childhood memories were set in the toy superstore. What elementary-aged child wasn't in awe of the sheer volume of toys and games that filled aisle after aisle? It was a dream come true for any kid. 

One of my favorite memories growing up was at Toys R Us in December. As we all know, December means one thing: Santa’s coming! At the beginning of the month, before holiday shopping season got too hectic, my mom would take me and my siblings to the store. Armed with $20, we had free reign to roam the aisles and search for Christmas gifts for one another. In the early 2000s, that could get you the Barbie you always wanted or the Lego set you'd dreamt of for months. If we wanted to purchase something extra special—a gift that would exceed our $20 budget—we'd simply pool our funds and buy a joint gift for the other sibling.

As we grew up and wanted books, electronics, or jewelry over toys, the Toys R Us tradition ended. The birth of Amazon also led us away from the lines of traditional box stores and toward the convenience of online shopping. Maybe this is where we failed Toys R Us.

Toys R Us might be saying its final goodbye today, but the memories we made at the childhood favorite will stay with us forever. In the spirit of the old adage–you know the one, "As one door closes, another opens"—here are five our favorite local toy shops to check out in the chain retailer's absence.

Big Blue Whale

237 W. 19th St.
Find classic, local, and handmade toys in this Heights shop owned by Vanessa Woodhouse, a local mom who wanted a space that brought joy and allowed kids to just be kids.

FUNdamentally Toys

2401 Rice Blvd.
This Rice Village spot focuses on creative and developmental activities. Here, you can shop by their pillars of play recommendations, including engaging the mind, energizing the body, and feeding the soul.

Toys to Love

1715 Post Oak Blvd.
Locally owned for more than 25 years, this Galleria-area shop offers toys for all ages. Many items can be personalized with monograms, and the store also carries products from many local camps.

Tomfoolery Toys & Books

4844 Beechnut St.
From dollhouses and race cars to puzzles and sea monkey kits, Tomfoolery has it all. Find an in-store story time every Thursday morning from LEAP, Literacy Enrichment and Play.

Fiddle Sticks Toys

1500 Binz St.
Located inside the Houston Children’s Museum, Fiddle Sticks Toys carries a selection of items found in several museum exhibits. Many products are educational and relate to STEM fields; plus, there's a range of eco-friendly toys.

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Fundamentally Toys

Gifts, Toys 2401 Rice Blvd

You wouldn’t want your kids to live on a junk food diet, so why let them play with junk toys—the kind of flashing, whirring objects that entertain kids inste...

Editor’s Pick

Big Blue Whale

Toys 237 W. 19th St.

Any toy store can entertain kids. This one wows adults. Owner Vanessa Wodehouse stocks the shelves with vintage and retro toys that kids have loved for decad...