Giraffes just want to live in dignity!
This hurts to write about. Before I get into what I have to say about this whole shit-bag of a situation I'd like to first express my fondness I have of Toys R Us. I grew up in a middle class family, I come from a level of privilege that makes me wonder why I ever started paying attention to world affairs. I could easily not give a damn and live a life of selfishness. If anything my life would probably better off, I'd still have close friendships without giant wedges and more money to my name from not donating to charities and progressive campaigns and so on.
But I digress, I really enjoyed Toys R Us as a child. Who wouldn't? Its a building full of bright colorful toys and parents to buy you one if you've been a well behaved child or whatever. Some of my fondest memories include Seeing the Nintendo 64 on display for the first time and playing the Mario demo with my brother. Or seeing the GameCube on display and playing Smash Brothers Melee or Luigi's Mansion (depending on when you went there of course). Its where I got my first Razer scooter that quite noticeably increased my mobility around the neighborhood. I could go on but for everyones sake I'll stop here and summarize with: Toys R Us is....was fucking dope.
Okay, so Toys R Us is a thing of the past, merely a memory now, but why? How? Surely its because they just weren't making enough money right? They got cocky and put too much stock into Beyblades.
Well, no. What had happened was, Toys R Us was bought by Bain Capital and KKR in 2005 and they do what vulture capitalists do: they loaded the company with debt to the point of bankruptcy. That was the goal from the 2005 buyout, to load the company with debt so the investors could cash out in a few years.
The workers were given 60 days notice as "severance pay". Over 180 stores closed and 31,000 people lost their jobs because a small group of people far above those 31,000 on the economic ladder wanted to get just a little bit higher on that ladder. But hey, investors gonna invest right?
It should go without saying that of course no employees were consulted about the 2005 buyout or the debt that was loaded onto the company or any of the other very important decisions that were made by a tiny little shitty minority of people who "worked" at the company. What if there was another way? What if workers had a say in the decision to sell the company they worked at to vulture capitalists?
This is where Worker Cooperatives come swooping down in their stylish union made capes and Chinese slave labor free spandex. Why good golly gosh O.P. what in tarnation is a Worker Cooperative? Well, since I'm here I may as well you: A worker cooperative, is a cooperative that is owned and self-managed by its workers. Simply put, instead of having investors and shareholders and CEO's run the show, the workers run the show. The people who work and make the profits that the investors and shareholders actually have self determination under a worker Co-op.
You may be sitting there, slack jawed, wondering if I've been infected with brain worms or some other nonsense. Well, aside from being extremely sweaty from self-driven exertion, I'm actually quite fine.
But yes, worker Co-ops exist, even right here in the motherland! Over 300 with over 3,500 employees that together make an estimated $400 million annually. But surely they don't work as well as the top down structure of a corporation, surely a privileged few dictating decisions that effect the lives of every worker is the proven model. Its whats everywhere! Its I'm familiar with.
Well, call me bubble bursting Bartholomew because bam: Worker Co-ops are more productive than normal companies.
But as I'm sure you can imagine, there is in fact a reason why worker co-ops are not the norm. To state it bluntly, when workers can make decisions about their workplace and how things are done, inequality at that company shrinks considerably.
I really just felt it was time for another picture, for pacing sake.
I think I'll wrap it up here with a quick summary. A beloved store by myself and children everywhere is no more and those workers are without jobs because a small group of people with all the power to make important decisions made the decision in 2005 that led ultimately to the companies demise in 2018. Perhaps if Toys R Us were one of the 300 worker cooperatives the company would still be around today, making kids smile with their inventory of joy.