Pomona store borrows 'Toys R Us' name for the holiday season

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ByRob Hayes via KABC logo
Thursday, December 13, 2018
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A toy store in downtown Pomona is causing up quite a stir because he's using a sign from a shuttered Toys R Us store on the eave of his business for the holidays.

POMONA, Calif. (KABC) -- En-Force Collectibles is a store full of childhood collectibles, things like Star Wars characters, Hot Wheels cars and other classic toys.

So it makes sense for it to bill itself as a toy store, but the sign it has chosen for the front of its downtown Pomona store is definitely causing some confusion. It reads, "Toys R Us."

It's a marquee sign from one of the now-shuttered toy chain's stores. En-Force owner George Samayoa said he picked it up from his brother after the sign was auctioned off during a Toys R Us bankruptcy clearance.

"He said "I've got to get rid of it because my wife gave me hell for it," Samayoa said.

And with the Pomona Christmas Parade approaching, Samayoa thought it would be nice to install the sign out front as a way to pay tribute to the former toy powerhouse and bring back holiday memories to fans of the chain.

But it raises the question: can he legally do it?

Samayoa said if asked he would take the sign down, at least partially. He's kicked around the idea of just removing the "R Us" portion and leaving "Toys" on the store's eave. But that's only if the owner of the trademark presses him.

"If not, we'll leave it there as long as we can," he said.

The colorful sign is drawing a lot of attention and support from people on the street. Even Andy Quinones, one of Pomona's cultural arts commissioners, supports the sign's display as a form of art.

"This Toys R Us sign...I think it's going to bring a lot of joy to people," he said. "I have a Toys R Us gift card and I know I have a balance, so jokingly my reaction is I'm going to take it to the store and see if they accept it."

The answer to that question is no, and it's not the first time Samayoa has been asked it. But even though Toys R Us may be a trademark-protected phrase that doesn't take away the fact that Samayoa's 20 years in this business means one thing.

"Toys is our thing!" he said, with a smirk.