Toys“R”Us. How it all started

Toys“R”Us. How it all started

Back in 1948, Charles Lazarus - the founder of Toys”R”Us, opened his very first store in Washington, D.C. called Children’s Bargain Town. It wasn’t until he opened his second store almost 10 years later that he adopted the name we’ve all come to know and love. And that is how the legacy of Toys”R”Us began.



1948 Children’s Bargain Town

1948 Children’s Bargain Town

In 1948, 25-year-old Charles Lazarus turned his dream of creating a child-oriented business into a reality. A visionary for his time, Lazarus started a baby furniture store, Children’s Bargain Town, in Washington, D.C. to cater to the post-war baby boom era. Lazarus filled his store with cribs and baby furniture and ran it single-handedly, overseeing everything from bookkeeping to delivering merchandise to customers’ homes.

Children's Bargain Town  billboard

Children's Bargain Town billboard

Continually looking for new ways to satisfy his customers’ needs, Lazarus introduced infant products and toys for older children into the store’s growing product assortment. The first toy he added to the inventory was a cradle gym. When it proved a strong seller, he added tricycles, books and other toys. Lazarus learned early on in the toy business that unlike furniture, toys broke or fell out of fashion with children, prompting parents to return to the store again and again.

A brief commercial for Children's Bargain Town U.S.A., promoting a sale on Huffy Bicycles' 20-inch Dragster.

Almost 10 years later, Lazarus adopted the supermarket model for his store, which allowed customers to examine and pick out products on their own and pay for them at a checkout stand. With the opening of his second store, he settled on the name Toys“R”Us® with a backward “R.” Although the name drew ire from parents and teachers alike for its grammatical incorrectness, Lazarus knew it was an attention-getter.


By the early 1980s, Toys“R”Us looked to diversify its portfolio by finding new incentives to attract parents with an extension of the “R”Us®brand. In 1983, the company branched out into children’s clothing when it opened its first Kids“R”Us® stores in Paramus, New Jersey and Brooklyn, New York. Although Toys“R”Us, Inc. closed its freestanding Kids“R”Us locations in 2003, the company remained committed to the apparel business and continued to sell a wide variety of name-brand designer and private label boys and girls clothing. Thus, in 1996, due to positive apparel sales, the company added apparel to most of its Toys“R”Us stores across the country and gave birth to a new addition in the “R”Us family with the launch of its first Babies“R”Us® location in Westbury, New York.

1971  Toys“R”Us Poster

1971 Toys“R”Us Poster

Today, Babies“R”Us is the nation’s leading baby products specialty retailer and the chain has grown to more than 230 locations across the country since its first store opened. The stores offer new and expectant parents everything they need for their little one, including an incredible selection of baby products and supplies from leading manufacturers at prices to fit any budget. 

In addition to expanding “R”Us stores and brands in the United States, Toys“R”Us launched a worldwide presence in 1984 when the company opened its first international wholly-owned store in Canada and licensed operation in Singapore. Almost 10 years later, former President George H.W. Bush traveled to Japan to open the country’s first Toys“R”Us store. Now, more than 30 years after the first store opening, Toys“R”Us, International operates more than 750 stores and more than 250 licensed stores in 38 countries and jurisdictions outside the United States, including Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Portugal, Spain and the United Kingdom, among others. The company continues to grow internationally, particularly in China and Southeast Asia.

In 2011, Toys“R”Us, Inc. formed a joint venture with Li & Fung Retailing for the Toys“R”Us business in Southeast Asia and Greater China, acquiring a majority stake in its previously licensed business. With this agreement, Toys“R”Us, Inc. assumed ownership and oversight of 90 existing Toys“R”Us stores in Brunei, China, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan and Thailand.


And... That's it!

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