A photo of Toys 'R' Us mascot Geoffrey the Giraffe leaving an empty shop has gone viral in the United States, as the iconic toy retailer closed the last of its 735 stores across the country.
The company, whose brand dates back to 1957, had filed for bankruptcy in the US last September, a victim of online shopping and a US$5 billion (S$6.8 billion) debt from its private equity owners.
In the photograph posted online on Wednesday by Facebook user Rene Johnpiere, who seems to have been an employee at the toy store, Geoffrey is seen wearing a beach shirt, a hat and sunglasses while holding onto a trolley bag.
As of last night, the post had been shared more than 320,000 times on Facebook.
The toy retailer posted a farewell message on its website next to an image of Geoffrey. "Thanks to each of you who shared your amazing journey to (and through) parenthood with us, and to every grandparent, aunt, uncle, brother and sister who's built a couch-cushion rocket ship, made up a hero adventure, or invented something gooey," the message said.
"Promise us just this one thing: Don't ever grow up. Play on!"
The liquidation of the largest US toy retailer is a blow to hundreds of toy makers, including Barbie maker Mattel, board game company Hasbro and other large vendors such as Lego.
Toys 'R' Us said in March it would sell its operations in Canada, Asia and Europe. There are more than 400 Toy 'R' Us stores across Greater China and South-east Asia, including 10 in Singapore.
A spokesman for Toys 'R' Us (Asia), a joint venture between Toys 'R' Us Inc - which has an 85 per cent stake - and Hong Kong's Fung Retailing, said yesterday its Singapore operations are unaffected by the brand's closure in the US and there are still plans to expand further in the region.
• Additional reporting by Ng Keng Gene and Lester Hio