MONTPELIER – The Vermont legislature called an emergency session of the General Assembly on Tuesday following the announcement by big box toy retailer Toys “R” Us that it was filing for bankruptcy protection from its creditors in the U.S. The House and Senate rushed through a bill to block the Toys “R” Us filing in Vermont, citing “…the needs of the state and the well-being of Vermonters are not just fun and games.”
The legislature snapped into action following a concern that was expressed by a flatlander, Angelo P. Stadovitch, who reported what had happened in New York City after the company abruptly closed its flagship store in Times Square in 2015. Stadovitch moved from the Big Apple to Essex Junction last year.
“After Toys “R” Us left the city,” he said, “things just went right into a dumpster. First, New York couldn’t pay its neon bill. Then people from the burbs stopped bringing their kids downtown to hang out. Within three months, Times Square looked like the Mary Celeste. We can’t let that sort of thing happen in Burlington!”
The reaction by Montpelier legislators to this testimonial, was mixed. The Stadovitch report was initially met with the skepticism and suspicion usually reserved for any out-of-state news. “More flatlander exaggeration,” one representative from the Northeast Kingdom was heard to sniff. “Alarmist poppycock,” said another from southern Vermont. The emergency session was called only after state representative Wilma Barnstable (I), a bookkeeper from Chittenden County, pointed out that the $5 billion in liabilities that Toys “R” Us was struggling to get out from under was “…not that far off Vermont’s overall long-term debt load. So this matter is not about small potatoes and we need to take it seriously!”
The vote in the legislature was close, however. Opponents of the bill expressed concern that, if pressed too hard, the Wayne, New Jersey, based company might “…just pack up its toys and leave Vermont for good.”
The legislation was passed by only four votes after a heated debate in the State House that lasted into the small hours of Wednesday morning. Ultimately, an impassioned speech by Junior House Majority Deputy-Leader Arlo Greenbriar carried the day. “Vermont has been hovering on the verge of insolvency for years,” he said, “and we couldn’t file for bankruptcy! Why should they be allowed to get away with it?”
Image Credits: Mike Mozart.