Goodbye Toys “Я” Us (1948-2018)!

I guess it’s time for the kids to grow up. But, even though Toys “Я” Us is closing its doors, the people who grew up with the famous toy store will always be Toys “Я” Us kids. The toy company announced the closure of 180 brick-and-mortar stores across America on May 15. It will be history by the end of the month.

Toys “Я” Us was founded in 1948 by Charles Lazarus. He opened his first store as a children’s furniture store and then turned into a toy store in 1957. The original location was in the Maryland suburbs. Lazarus was born in 1923 in Washington D.C. His parents owned a bike shop during his childhood. He entered the children’s furniture business after World War II.

The toy store, known as Toys “Я” Us, expanded with stores across America and Canada. The mascot, Geoffrey the Giraffe, and the Toys “Я” Us jingle were introduced to the public. In the 1990s, Lazarus faced tough competition with Amazon and Wal-Mart, which eventually beat Toys “R” Us as the largest toy retailer in United States. Lazarus died on March 22, days after the company announced its closure. He was 94.

Toys "R" Us filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in Sept. 2017 in hopes that the move would give the company flexibility to deal with $5 billion in long-term debt. Toys "Я" Us, Inc. officials originally wanted to close its U.S. stores but, in March, announced they would close locations in the U.S. and the United Kingdom. The brick-and-mortar stores were losing out to online retailers.

The Canadian division of Toys “Я” Us was bought by Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd. It will operate the remaining Canadian stores under the Toys "Я" Us brand. The rival U.K. and Irish stores, Smyths, will purchase Toys "Я" Us stores in Germany, Austria and Switzerland and expand Smyths stores in the European market.

With liquidation sales in their final days at home, I recommend trips to Toys “Я” Us soon before they close their doors forever. That way you can play on and continue the legacy of the Toys “Я” Us kids into the next generation.