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How Toys "R" Us Started?

Toys "R" Us is an American toy, clothing, and baby product retailer.

The company was founded in 1957, its first store was built in April 1948, with its headquarters located in Parsippany-Troy Hills, in the New York metropolitan area.

However, the company filed for bankruptcy in 2017 and 2018, closing all of its US, British, and Australian locations.

Operations in other international markets such as Asia and Africa were less affected.

The Founder

Charles Philip Lazarus the founder of Toys “R” Us was an American entrepreneur, executive, and pioneer within the retail toy industry.

Lazarus served as a cryptographer in the U.S. Army during World War II.

Following WWII, Lazarus returned to Washington, D.C., to enter the children's furniture business during the late 1940s.

He was inspired by his generation of servicemen who, like himself, returned from WWII, married and began having children.

Lazarus began selling cradles and cribs inside his father's existing bicycle store with help from an uncle.

How Toys R Us Was Created

In 1948, Lazarus opened his first store called Children's Bargain Town, a children's furniture store. He primarily focused on strollers and baby cribs during his store's first few years in business.

The focus of the store changed in June 1957, and the first Toys "R" Us, dedicated exclusively to toys rather than furniture, was opened by Lazarus in Rockville, Maryland.

Lazarus also designed and styled the Toys "R" Us logo, which featured a backwards "R" to give the impression that a child wrote it.

He was able to corner the market by buying and selling so many toys that he could negotiate more lucrative contracts than his competitors.

The company was also known for bringing big names in for promotional events or philanthropic work, such as NBA Hall of Famer Magic Johnson.

In 1969, Toys “R” Us developed its beloved Geoffrey the Giraffe character. The mascot became synonymous with the brand and its advertising campaigns over the decades.

Expanding Products

The Toys “R” Us empire was steadily expanding after the launch.

In 1983, the company opened a clothing store spinoff called Kids R Us.

Building upon the success of Kids “R” Us, the company expanded into baby clothing with Babies “R” Us in 1996.

The stores saw success with selling baby-related merchandise.

In the 1990s and early aughts, Toys “R” Us began expanding into major cities like New York.

In the Big Apple, Toys “R” Us opened its iconic multi-story store with a fully functioning Ferris wheel in 2001.

In January 2018, the company announced it would liquidate and close up to 182 of its stores in the U.S. as part of its restructuring, as well as convert up to 12 stores into co-branded Toys "R" Us and Babies "R" Us stores.

Category Killer

Toys “R” Us was so successful that it is generally credited with creating the term category killer.

This refers to a company that is so competitive with its inventory and prices that it drives all other similar outlets out of business.

Not only did the company have more toys than any other store, but it also had some of the lowest prices around,

By 1990, Toys “R” Us, which had more than 1400 locations worldwide at its peak, controlled around 25 percent of the estimated $12 billion toy market

Flagship Store

In July 2001, Toys “R” Us opened an international flagship store in New York's Times Square at a cost of $35 million.

The 110,000 square-foot store included various themed zones such as Barbie with an actual life-size dreamhouse, Jurassic Park with an animatronic T-Rex, Lego, and the signature indoor Ferris wheel.

The store drew thousands of tourists for over a decade before the company decided to cancel its lease on the space in December 2015.

In August 2017, Toys “R” Us announced a 35,000 square-foot temporary store near the original one that would be open around the holiday season.

The flagship store also served as a gaming destination, partnering with Microsoft to be the world's first location to launch the original Xbox console on November 15, 2001.

In 2006, the store added a Dance Dance Revolution SuperNova arcade machine in its electronics department.

The store later added a full amusement arcade, known as "R"Cade.


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