Where to buy gifts now that Toys R Us is gone

As a journalist, I covered the Black Friday shopping phenomenon for eight years. I’ve interviewed hardcore deal seekers camping outside stores and dozens of others looking for the biggest discounts on gifts.

Every eight years, Toys R Us had a line of shoppers – usually parents – waiting in the cold for hours before the doors opened. This year these toy stores are empty after the chain closed its stores in June.

Nearly 600 Kroger stores will feature a Geoffrey's Toy Box pop-up this holiday season featuring children's toys once exclusive to Toys R Us stores.

Retailers are now battling to win Toys R Us customers this holiday shopping season by beefing up their toy departments, advertising exclusive items and hosting in-store toy demos. Target, Walmart, Kohl’s, JC Penney, Dollar General and even grocery chain Kroger want a bigger slice of the $27 billion toy industry.

Here are some stores where Nashvillians can buy toys during the holiday season:

Phillips toy store

Phillips Toy Mart, Nashville’s favorite, has been delighting customers since 1946. You can find all kinds of arts and crafts, educational toys, electronics, puzzles, games, costumes and accessories for children.

5207 Harding Pike to Belle Meade; 615-352-5363; phillipstoymart.com

Bright Sky Toys and Books

Brilliant Sky sells quality toys that stimulate children’s physical, emotional and cognitive development.

1705 Mallory Lane in Brentwood; 615-309-0557; 2002 Richard Jones Road. in Green Hills; 615-800-7754; shinyskytoys.com

Arcade

This little kids’ clothing and toy store in Hillsboro Village has products you might not find anywhere else in Nashville.

2106 Acklen Ave. in the village of Hillsboro; 615-928-7660; arcadenashville.com

Scout

Nashville-based online baby store Scout is settling in for a month-long vacation residency at Singalong Shop in East Nashville. The residency will begin Nov. 24, and events throughout the month will include a holiday ornament workshop, book reading, and holiday card making. Scout sells responsibly made apparel, gifts, accessories and nursery decor.

Singalong Shop at Shoppes at Fatherland 1100 Fatherland St.; scout-baby.com

Franklin Toys Express Learning

With a focus on education and creativity, this Franklin toy store promotes its interactive shopping experience. Events include story time with Queen Elsa and visits with Santa Claus.

420, boul. Cool Springs in Franklin; 615-771-3434; learningexpress.com

Target

Target reallocated space at nearly 500 stores to make room for more toys, including ride-on electric vehicles, playhouses and outdoor playsets. In-store events this holiday season will invite kids to test toys and meet characters from PAW Patrol and Minecraft.

Target.com

Kroger

Kroger has partnered with owners of the Toys R Us brand to launch Geoffrey’s Toy Box pop-ups in nearly 600 Kroger stores. The pop-ups feature a selection of 35 children’s toys that were once exclusive to Toys R Us, ranging in price from $19.99 to $49.99.

Kroger.com

walmart

Walmart has expanded some of its toy aisles this year by 30%, creating what the company calls its widest assortment of toys yet. The company is enticing shoppers with in-store events and demos, and a new online specialty toy experience featuring content from toy influencers.

walmart.com

General dollar

This Goodlettsville-based retailer is offering Legos for the first time, in addition to other popular toys. Shoppers can get 25% off all eligible toy purchases of $75 or more through December 24.

Dollargeneral.com

Kohls

Kohl’s has significantly expanded its toy selection this year and added products from two well-known toy brands: Lego and FAO Schwarz.

Kohls.com

The Lego store at Opry Mills

Shoppers can find the latest Lego sets and even play with them at the Opry Mills mall store.

Lego.com

American girl at CoolSprings Galleria

American Girl lovers can style their dolls’ braids at the Doll Hair Salon, decorate Christmas cookies, and meet Santa during the holiday season at the popular American Girl store.

Americangirl.com

HOLIDAY SALE: Get full access to Tennessean.com for less than $1 per month

Contact Lizzy Alfs at lalfs@tennessean.com or 615-726-5948 and on Twitter @lizzyalfs.