The man who founded the toy retailer Toys “R” Us has died.
His name was Charles P. Lazarus, and he was 94 years old. The retail store—the version with which we are most familiar, anyway—was founded in 1957.
Prior to that, in 1948, Lazarus started a children’s furniture retailer. It opened in Washington D.C; he would eventually go on to offer toys, and would therefore shift his business’ focus. Customers wanted baby toys, so he added them to his business. After doing so, he started adding toys for older children.
Toys “R” Us is believed to be the first supermarket that was based solely on the sale of toys.
Lazarus, an American entrepreneur, served in World War II. He was a cryptologist. He ended up returning to the United States after serving. Like his father before him, he opened a small business.
Because of the baby boom that occurred after the war, in addition to the need for children’s furniture, there was also a demand for toys. The businessman noticed it and acknowledged the demand. He therefore opened Toys “R” Us, a type of store that was considered quite innovative at the time. The shift in his business’ focus paid off for him. There was a gap in the market, and he was smart enough to fill it.
It was only recently, after decades of being successful, that the business’ future started to look less-than-bright. It amassed billions of dollars of debt, and a search for a buyer was unsuccessful.
This year, Lazarus’ toy-based empire ended up in liquidation. A closing down sale, one which is company-wide, started this week. Stores in the United Kingdom have started to close.
According to a spokesperson for the company, there have been several sad moments for the retailer in recent weeks. However, the saddest of all is the death of Lazarus, who was the company’s beloved founder.
Lazarus’ death occurred on the 22nd of March.
The company’s headquarters is in New Jersey; the spokesperson said that Lazarus visited the headquarters last year, and the company is grateful for Lazarus’ passion for the customer, positive energy, and his love for children.
The spokesperson added that the company’s prayers and thoughts are with Lazarus’ family as well as his loved ones.
There have been many sad moments for Toys”R”Us in recent weeks, and none more heartbreaking than today’s news about the passing of our beloved founder, Charles Lazarus. Our thoughts and prayers are with Charles’ family and loved ones.
— ToysRUs (@ToysRUs) March 22, 2018
In addition to Toys “R” Us, the company founded by Lazarus is responsible for Babies “R” Us. There was also another chain, Kids “R” Us, which is now defunct.
There are hundreds of Toys “R” Us stores in the United States and Puerto Rico. There are also more than 750 stores internationally.
On September 18th of 2017, the company had to file for bankruptcy protection in the United States, and it also did so in Canada.
It was announced on the 14th of March 2018 that all United Kingdom-based stores would eventually close. The next day, it was announced that Toys “R” Us would be going out of business altogether; all 800 of its United States-based stores would have to be sold. Therefore, liquidation sales are likely to occur.
Unless things change, all stores worldwide will also be sold off.
It is worth noting that Lazarus died just about a week after the liquidation of the company that he founded was announced.
A United Kingdom-based retail analysist has stated that Toys “R” Us was no longer able to compete with online retailers—including Amazon—because of its large big box stores. Shopping habits are changing, and customers are looking to the internet when making their purchases.
Toys “R” Us store closings will hit the United Kingdom pretty hard; it is, after all one of the country’s largest retailers of toys. It employs over 3,000 people in the United Kingdom.
Lazarus was the CEO of Toys “R” Us until 1994.
Of course, there’s still the relatively remote possibility that Toys “R” Us may be saved in the United States—and perhaps elsewhere.
According to media reports, the CEO of MGA Entertainment seems to think he can save the brand—and he is not frightened by Toys “R” Us’ losses in recent years. The aforementioned CEO, Isaac Larian, hopes to save 400 of the United States Toys “R” Us stores that have yet to close.
For those unfamiliar with the company, MGA Entertainment created Bratz dolls.