If you were a kid in the 1970’s, 1980’s, or 1990’s, there’s a good chance your go to store for the latest toys and games was Toys R Us. And there’s an even better chance that the Toys R Us holiday catalog was your bible as Christmas got close.
Well, that wasn’t me.
Oh, I browsed the catalog every year like most kids did. But I don’t remember setting foot inside a Toys R Us until I was out of high school. In fact, I don’t remember there being any Toys R Us stores in the South Shore of Boston when I was a kid. However, I did habe two toy stores I’d always go to: Child World, and Kaybee Toys.
I liked both store because I could get a wide range of action figures at either place. So if one place didn’t have what I was looking for, I’d usually find it at the other store. My favorite Child World location was at the Westgate Mall in Brockton Ma. This Child World store was one of the mall’s anchor stores, and it was massive!
Whenever my family went to the Westgate Mall, this was the place I’d park myself. Most of the time it was like “See you in an hour mom.” It was at this child World store where I bought (or my family bought), my first video game, which I belive was a Ninja Turtles handheld game. After one Christmas, I bought myself a Knight Rider handheld game.
Child World was also the place where I got some of my larger G.I. Joe vehicles, like the X-19 Stealth Fighter. I wish I still had that thing. Anyways, my first stop during any visit was always the action figure aisle, and here I found multiple Batman action figures over the years. I also remember buying plenty of those 3 comic book grab bags filled with reprints of recent issues. Hey, don’t judge me, they were cheap!
I haven’t been back to The Westgate Mall since I was in college, but it’s still around today. The Child World closed long ago, but I remember the castle look of the outside stayed around for a while even after something else took over the location. Sadly though, Child World wasn’t the only place to close their doors at The Westgate Mall.
The mall hit some hard times in the 1990s. First in 1992 when the Silver City Galleria opened in Taunton, about ten miles to the south, and again in 1996 when the South Shore Plaza, a few miles north, doubled in size to become the Boston area’s largest shopping mall.
During this time, Westgate’s anchor base took some major hits when Child World, Woolworth, and Bradlees all closed. By the late 1990s, the Wastegate mall was nearly vacant and was in danger of closing for good.
I remember going there the day after the 2000 election. I remember the date well because my friend John and I were looking for an art supply store near the mall, but all we talked about was the election. We went into the mall for old times sake, and many of the stores were vacant.
Even several of the businesses around the mall had shut down by then. Back in 1989 I recall going to the movie theater in front of the mall to see the greatest video game movie of all time, “The Wizard.” But on the 2000 trip, I couldn’t remember where the movie building had been. Also gone were the Paperama, and a Purity Supreme grocery store I went to a couple of times.
If I went to the Westgate Mall today I probably wouldn’t recognize it. I’m sure it’s been remodeled over the years, and new stores have opened where my old favorites once stood. But I still have my memories of the best damn toy store in the South Shore, and I still have a couple of the toys I got there.