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The Birth of a Toy Empire - Founding and Early Growth of Toys"R"Us

The Birth of a Toy Empire - Founding and Early Growth of Toys"R"Us

The Birth of a Toy Empire - Founding and Early Growth of Toys"R"Us 


Introducing a name that brings a twinkle to every child's eye! It's an iconic brand that has shaped the way we shop for toys – it is the one and only Toys"R"Us, where play never stops. This iconic toy store is a magical place where childhood dreams come to life.  

In this blog, we'll discover the birth and early growth of this beloved toy empire, from its humble beginnings to becoming a household name. 


The Vision Behind Toys"R"Us 

Our tale begins with two visionaries who dared to dream big – Charles Lazarus and his unwavering entrepreneurial spirit. In the late 1940s, Charles embarked on a journey that would change the world of toys forever.   

Lazarus came back to his hometown which happened to be the nation's capital after serving as a cryptologist in World War II. His intent was to start a business that would support his aim of starting a family. The notion of baby furnishings seemed sensible to him as he recognized that his fellow government-issued officers wanted to settle down to start their family as well. 

He decided to set up “Children's Bargain Town” below his father's bicycle store on 18th Street in Northwest Washington in 1948. This store housed all the furnishings required for raising a baby. 

The economy was strong, and Lazarus struck the iron when it was hot! He stocked toys along with the furniture when parents started asking where they could get them.  

Lazarus had an insight when a parent returned to buy a replacement toy after the previous one broke - he realized that though he might only sell one crib to a family, toy buyers would keep coming back. 

He had a vision, one that went beyond cribs and strollers. He saw a future where children could explore a wonderland of toys. He was determined to craft an unforgettable shopping experience, transforming his store into a toy and baby-goods haven in 1957, birthing the concept of the wholesome store we now know as Toys"R"Us. 


The Evolution of the Toy Store 

As the years rolled by, Toys"R"Us underwent a transformation that would forever change the landscape of toy retail. Innovative approaches took centre stage when it came to prioritizing business. Toys"R"Us wasn't just a store anymore; it was an experience. Families ventured into its bright and colorful aisles, where the imagination was set free. It was a place where kids didn't just shop; they embarked on magical journeys of discovery. 

Charles Lazarus rebranded his store, renaming it Toys"R"Us. The unique name wasn't just a catchy play on words; it signified the store's commitment to offering a wide variety of toys, catering to every child's wishes. The iconic backward "R" added a playful twist, making it memorable for kids of all ages. 

An interview recorded by The Post stated that Charles Lazarus thought of his establishment as being a “supermarket for toys,” and that they did not have any competition when it came to offering variety. 

Later in this blog, we will discover how Charlie Lazarus not only established the single most significant retailer in the kids' market but also one of the most significant and influential forms in how sellers interact with customers: the category-winning superstore. 


Geoffrey the Giraffe – The Iconic Toys"R"Us Mascot 

The introduction of Geoffrey the Giraffe, the iconic mascot, was a stroke of genius that captured the hearts of generations. Geoffery soon became one of the most enduring symbols of this evolution. The catchphrase - "I don't want to grow up, I'm a Toys 'R' Us kid" helped Mr. Lazarus' establishment win over countless generations of kids. The beloved mascot ultimately became synonymous with joy and wonder that perfectly personified the Toys"R"Us brand. 

But it wasn't just about Geoffrey. Toys"R"Us was a place where shopping for toys turned into a family adventure. It became more than just a store; it was a destination for families to bond, explore, and create lasting memories. The bright colors, the exciting displays, and the sense of wonder that permeated the store transformed the toy shopping experience into something extraordinary. 


Expanding the Empire 

The success of Toys"R"Us was undeniable, and it was time to share the magic with the world. The early expansion saw the opening of additional stores, each a gateway to a world of toys and adventures.  

Toys"R"Us didn't stop at toys alone; it introduced new product categories and toy brands, becoming a one-stop-shop for parents seeking the perfect gift. This winning formula made Toys"R"Us a household name and a go-to destination for birthdays and holidays.  

With each new store and product category, the toy empire grew stronger, earning the trust of families everywhere. This expansion was a testament to the growing popularity of Toys"R"Us, as families turned to it as a trusted toy destination. 

The early growth of Toys"R"Us can be attributed to its commitment to offering a vast selection of toys, excellent customer service, and an atmosphere that made shopping for toys an adventure. Lazarus made toy manufacturers accept payment months later rather than immediately paying for the goods. He requested early releases and exclusives. He forced them to promote Toys"R"Us. 

With locations in Singapore, Singapore, and Canada, Toys"R"Us has grown into a global retailing powerhouse. In 1992, Mr. Lazarus and President George H. W. Bush attended the opening of the business's first location in Japan which cemented the global recognition of his once humble establishment. 

Toys"R"Us solidified its place as the ultimate toy destination, a testament to the dedication of its founders and the enduring power of play. The story of Toys"R"Us is a journey filled with wonder, challenges, and triumphs, and it's a story that continues to enchant generations of children and parents alike. 

The success of Toys"R"Us knew no bounds. The early expansion was a testament to its universal appeal. New stores sprouted across the country, each one a portal to a world filled with toys and imagination. 


Toys"R"Us and its Impact on the Retail Industry 

Toys"R"Us has never been just a toy store; it’s a game-changer in the toy industry. It set new standards for variety, quality, and customer experience. Toys"R"Us isn’t just a follower of toy trends; it is a trendsetter, influencing the industry's direction. One can go as far as to say that without the introduction of Toys"R"Us, there would not have been multi-category retail companies. 

Include Charles Lazarus in this group of retail innovators who came up with a fresh approach to selling. One of the few American-based merchants to achieve success globally. 

His model was supermarkets. Ample aisles. Merchandise piled high. Variety. Large enough to get goods at savings that might be shared with customers. He welcomed change, notably the introduction of video games that attracted adults without young children to the business. 

Lazarus also built up a computerized inventory system using his skills in technology so that from his workstation he could see every product sold and what needed to be replenished. 

This influence extended beyond the store shelves. Memorable marketing campaigns and promotions, such as the iconic "I don't wanna grow up, I'm a Toys"R"Us kid" jingle, etched Toys"R"Us into the collective memory of a generation. It wasn't just a store; it was an integral part of growing up. 


The Legacy of Toys"R"Us 

The legacy of Toys"R"Us is not just etched in retail history; it resides in the hearts of generations. It's the emotional connection people have with the brand, the nostalgia of their childhood visits, and the joy of watching their own children experience the magic. 

Today, Toys"R"Us stands as a symbol of the enduring power of play and imagination. Its legacy lives on, and its journey from a small baby furniture store to a global toy empire is a testament to the joy that toys bring to our lives. 

In the grand tapestry of the toy world, Toys"R"Us stands as a shining star. From its humble beginnings to its meteoric rise, it has left an indelible mark on the toy industry and in the hearts of children and parents alike. The journey of Toys"R"Us is a remarkable tale of passion, dedication, and the enduring power of play. 

A determined businessman, Mr. Lazarus led his organization through decades of expansion. The key to the company's success was Mr. Lazarus's ability to understand a fundamental question: What do kids want to play with?  

As we conclude this magical journey through the founding and early growth of Toys"R"Us, we invite you to share your own memories and experiences with this beloved toy empire. Because Toys"R"Us has been a lot more than just a store; it has been a cherished part of countless childhoods, a place where dreams take flight, and where joy knows no bounds. 


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