Charles P. Lazarus (October 3, 1923 – March 22, 2018) founded Children’s Supermart (which would evolve into Toys “R” Us) in Washington, D.C., during the post-war baby boom era in 1948 as a baby-furniture retailer. Lazarus, who served in the Army during World War II, opened the first store at 2461 18th St. NW, where the nightclub Madam’s Organ Blues Bar is. He began receiving requests from customers for baby toys. After adding baby toys, he got requests for toys for older children. The focus of the store changed in 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 stylized the Toys “R” Us logo, which a featured backwards “R” to give the impression that a child wrote it.It was acquired in 1966 by Interstate Department Stores, Inc., owner of the White Front, Topps Chains and Children’s Bargain Town USA, a toy-store chain related to Toys “R” Us in the American Midwest that would later be combined with the rest of the Toys “R” Us chain. The original Toys “R” Us store design from 1969 to 1989 consisted of vertical rainbow stripes and a brown roof with a front entrance and side exit.
At its peak, Toys “R” Us was considered a classic example of a category killer, a business that specializes so thoroughly and efficiently in one sector that it pushes out competition from both smaller specialty stores and larger general retailers. Since the rise of mass merchants like Walmart, Target and Amazon, however, Toys “R” Us lost much of its share of the toy market, and fell behind Walmart in toy sales for 1998.
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