It was in September of 2017 when the rumblings of a major restructuring really took hold for Toys "R" Us. I offered-up some commentary on one of their owners, Bain Captial, and how I feared that they were positioning Toys "R" Us for a repeat of the fleecing and destruction that they subjected KB Toys to in the early 2000s. A week later, the rumbles became reality as Toys "R" Us filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. While it was "business-as-usual" for the most part at the actual stores, now that the holiday season is behind us, the dark reality that everyone knew was coming has arrived: store closures. In a statement issued late on Tuesday, Dave Brandon, Chairman & CEO of Toys "R" Us announced that they're pairing down the store list, but he reaffirmed the commitment to making Toys "R" Us a destination for generations to come. One thing not included in the message was the actual store closing list, but that was buried in a court filing from yesterday afternoon. Around 180 stores will be shuttered between February-April, and sadly the Toys "R" Us that I shopped at as a kid is one of the ones about to go, and as an adult I've shopped at four of the eight Illinois locations about to go dark. Of note is that many of the store closings are actually stand-alone Babies "R" Us locations, and it's expected that nearby Toys "R" Us stores will be remodeled to be TRU/BRU combo stores. Here's the local list...
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Kohl Children’s Museum of Greater Chicago has been a long-time favorite destination for our family, and today they've announced plans to host a month-long pop-up satellite museum at Urban Edge, a 5,000-sq.-ft. storefront gallery located in downtown Waukegan, IL at 220 W. Clayton Street. The pop-up Museum will operate during the month of February 2018 and will be free of charge to school and childcare groups during weekday hours and to families during evening and weekend hours. Opening day ceremonies that will include remarks from Museum and City of Waukegan leadership will take place on Saturday, February 3 beginning at 12 p.m.
I support vigilante justice... if done properly. Of course, such behavior is technically still illegal, but I think it's a reflection of our society that makes characters like Batman and The Punisher so empowering and inspiring. Now, from Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures comes director Eli Roth’s reimagining of the 1974 revenge thriller Death Wish - a film that epitomized a certain brand of vigilante action. Bruce Willis stars as Dr. Paul Kersey - "a surgeon who only sees the aftermath of his city’s violence as it’s rushed into his ER – until his wife (Elisabeth Shue) and college-age daughter (Camila Morrone) are viciously attacked in their suburban home. With the police overloaded with crimes, Paul, burning for revenge, hunts for his family’s assailants to deliver justice. As the anonymous slayings of criminals grabs the media’s attention, the city wonders if this deadly avenger is a guardian angel…or a grim reaper." Check out the latest trailer below!
The holiday season brings with it a host of magical experiences and opportunities to make family memories that will last a lifetime. At the pinnacle comes the annual visit with Santa Claus, and this year the folks at HGTV and Macerich Shopping Centers have teamed-up for an all-new experience aimed at bringing holiday magic to kids and grownups alike with some flourishes that have been upgraded for the social media age. HGTV presents Santa HQ - open now at 15 different locations, including the Fashion Outlets of Chicago in Rosemont, Illinois - not far from Rock Father™ HQ! My wife and I recently took The Rock Daughters™ to visit Santa HQ first-hand, and you're going to want to schedule a visit, too!
One of this year's fantastic releases is the Pearl Jam concert film, Let's Play Two. Filmed live right here in Chicago at the iconic Wrigley Field in August of 2016, the film serves as a beautiful documentary that celebrates the band and their fans during the year that the Chicago Cubs finally won the World Series. This week, the film got something unexpected - a companion video game. The vintage, 8-bit game recalls my many days playing baseball on the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) back in the day, featuring the band members as baseball players in a "home run derby." Play the game online via Pearl Jam's website, and be sure to stick around at the end to hear 8-bit versions of "Alive" and "Jeremy."
The holiday season is an important time here at Rock Father HQ. I often write about holiday traditions, activities and of course, my annual Holiday Wish Guide™. For many families, their wish is simple - to have a roof over their heads and food on the table. The Salvation Army Chicago can help with that - serving communities in Chicago, Northern Illinois, and Lake County, Indiana by providing emergency financial assistance, grocery assistance through local food pantries; educational and recreational programs for children, adults and seniors; in addition to leadership training and character development programs for youth. One thing we make very clear to our daughters is that the season is one of giving, and whenever we see the familiar Red Kettle, The Rock Daughters™ drop some coins and often get a chance to ring the bell.