Terri Aniolowski left the Toys R Us store, lit a cigarette and scowled.
“Waste of frickin’ time!” she barked, her demeanor seemingly at odds with her folksy peace-sign earrings.
But then Aniolowski perhaps had more at stake than most when she made her way to the big-box toy store on Western near Belmont Friday.
The signs on the windows screamed: “EVERYTHING MUST GO!” and “ENTIRE STORE UP TO 30 PERCENT OFF.”
Aniolowski, 58, is a huge Star Wars fan. How huge? Her bathroom has Star Wars soap, towels, shower curtains, hair gel and even a Star Wars-themed tissue dispenser. On Friday, she was on the lookout for some “Ahsoka Tano” action figures. She was very disappointed to discover that the discount — for her items — was only 10 percent.
“It doesn’t even barely cover our taxes,” said Aniolowski, of Portage Park.
In fairness, Toys R Us didn’t promise 30-percent discounts on all items.
Last week, the company said it plans to close or sell its stores — it has 735 in the United States — after operating for months under bankruptcy protection. The company hasn’t said when, exactly, it plans to shutter those stores.
Aniolowski and her buddy, Mary Mazurkiewicz, from Jefferson Park, were also disappointed to learn the store wasn’t accepting coupons. Between them, the friends had planned to fill up Aniolowski’s Plymouth Grand Voyager with goodies.
“I’m a first-time grandma, and I was hoping to come out with a bunch of stuff,” said Mazurkiewicz, who said she had her eye on a motorized pink Harley-Davidson. In the end, they both left with almost nothing.
There was a lot of disappointment Friday, although it was hard to tell from strolling through the store.
Kaitlyn Jensen’s overflowing shopping cart suggested she was preparing for a tornado to imminently sweep across the North Side of the city. The toys included a plastic drum set, an inflatable pool and a Radio Flyer tricycle that dangled from the edge of her cart. And it was all for her slumbering 4-month-old son — now and in the future.
“Next couple of birthdays, next couple of Christmases — right now,” she explained.
Grant Schreiber, 54, owns a toy store called Maximum Distractions on the Northwest Side.
“I’m here strictly as a vulture,” Schreiber said. “I’m going to re-sell it at my own store.”
He was buying despite the relatively small discounts. Most of the things in his cart were items that, he said, he can’t find elsewhere.
“They probably won’t be here when [the discounts are] 25 percent off,” he said.