HACKENSACK, N.J. – The proposed Toys R Us stock offering has been on the shelf for almost two years, and as each month passes, it becomes an increasingly harder sell.

Not only do potential investors cast a wary eye on IPO proposals that languish for too long, but since the Toys R Us offering was first registered in May 2010, analysts and retail experts increasingly have declared that the era of the big-box specialty retailer is over.

Toys R Us Chairman and CEO Jerry Storch disagrees, saying the future is bright for retail chains that play it smart. And many in the toy industry believe if anyone can sell Toys R Us to Wall Street as a growth vehicle, it’s Storch. Storch, a former Target executive once considered the heir apparent to head the giant discounter, was hired in 2006 to turn around Toys R Us.

The question of whether the Toys R Us IPO ever takes off, or is permanently stalled, matters not just to the 1,700 corporate employees at the Toys R Us headquarters in Wayne, N.J., or to workers at the 876 Toys R Us stores in the U.S., but also to toy makers who rely on the chain to showcase their products.

A successful IPO by Toys R Us in 2010 or last year was part of the plan when private-equity firms Bain Capital Partners LLC and Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co., and real estate trust Vornado, took the toy retailer private in a $6.6 billion leveraged buyout in 2005. The buyout loaded Toys R Us with debt, of which $5.17 billion remained on the books as of the end of January, with close to $1.4 billion of it coming due next year.

Toy manufacturers who rely on Toys R Us as a retail partner say the company needs the IPO to pay off debt and ensure its future strength. And a strong Toys R Us, they said, is good for the toy business.

“I wish Toys R Us good luck, because if something happens to Toys R Us, the whole business is down the tube,” said Isaac Larian, CEO of MGA Entertainment Inc., which makes Bratz dolls and other toys.