NEW YORK (CBSLA/AP) — After 70 years in business, Toys 'R' Us's management has told its employees that it will sell or close all of its U.S. stores, according to a toy industry analyst who spoke to several employees who were on the call Wednesday.
Jim Silver, a toy industry expert, says Toys 'R' Us's CEO told employees the plan is to liquidate all of its U.S. stores and after that, it could do a deal with its Canadian operation to run some of its U.S. stores.
The closing of its nearly 800 U.S. stores would put as many as 33,000 jobs at risk.
The iconic toy retailer plans to file liquidation papers as soon as Wednesday night in advance of a bankruptcy court hearing.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer commented about the company's plans to liquidate, saying he doesn't want customers in possession of gift cards to pay the price.
"I am urging the company to redeem outstanding gift cards for cash so they are not as worthless and unwanted as a lump of coal in a stocking," said Schumer on Wednesday.
The company declined to comment on the matter.
The chain filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last fall, saddled with debt that hurt its attempts to compete.
It pledged then to stay open, but had weak sales during the critical holiday season. In January it announced plans to close about 180 stores.
Right now, it's unclear exactly when Toys 'R' Us plans to shut down all of its remaining stores. But heartbroken shoppers say it is the end of an era.
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