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Toys R Us liquidation sales are coming, here’s what to know

Deal-seeking shoppers are abuzz, hoping that the end of Toys R Us could mean big savings on brand-name toys.

While the liquidations could have started as soon as today, it looks like discount-hunters will have to wait a little longer.

A Toys R us spokesperson told the Tampa Bay Times that stores will be open as normal on Thursday but the liquidation sales will likely begin Friday.

Eleven of the 700 stores in the United States are located in Tampa Bay. But before you plan a big shopping trip, here are a few things to know:

• Go in with realistic expectations.

The sales might not be as big as you hope right away.

The Toys R Us on Tyrone Boulevard in St. Petersburg began its liquidation sales in the first wave of announced closings. While signs said "up to 30 percent off," much of the store was marked down around 10 to 20 percent.

Experts say "50 percent off" might not come until later in the sale.

Previous coverage: Toys R Us stores in Tampa, St. Petersburg have begun blow-out closing sales

• Shop smart.

Liquidation firms have been known hike up the prices of items and then mark them down to recoup as much money as possible. Before checking out, check your smartphone to see how Amazon, Target or Walmart is pricing the item.

• No returns.

All purchases will be considered final, though there are refunds available if the item was purchased before the liquidation.

• Use your gift cards ASAP.

The store will only accept them until mid-April. But coupons and reward points are no longer being accepted.

• The good stuff will go first.

Hoping to snag an American Girl doll or Lego set on the cheap? So is everyone else. Check on those items early.

Court documents say the store hopes to close by the end of June, but they could close before then depending on inventory. Store fixtures and furniture may also be on sale in some locations.

• This means Babies R Us is closing, too.

Mothers-to-be will probably be able to find good deals at Babies R Us, but if you have your baby registry at the chain you should probably start a new one elsewhere.

MORE: Go here for more Business News

• So, is this really the end?

Toys R Us tried to avoid closing all its stores earlier this year. The company selected a chunk of stores to close and said it would have a new focus on online sales in efforts to restructure, but it wasn’t enough.

Toys R Us officials have said competition from discount chains and online sales have made it impossible to recoup.

The Associated Press reported Thursday the maker of the Bratz doll was leading a bid to salvage more than half the Toys R Us stores, but he and other investors would need to come up with $800 million.

There also have been reports a buyer may swoop in to save Babies R Us, but nothing is confirmed.

Contact Sara DiNatale at [email protected] Follow @sara_dinatale.

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