Charles Lazarus, Toys “R” Us Founder, Dies A Week After Company Plans To Dissolve

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In recent weeks, Toys “R” Us announced the closure of 735 U.S. stores (an event The Simpsons predicted in 2004). Now, the company’s founder, Charles Lazarus, has died.

Although the 94-year-old had no stake in the company, he started the business in 1948 at 25. He sold baby furniture in a store called Children’s Bargain Store in Washington, D.C., then quickly expanded to selling toys, CNN reports.

Lazarus opened his first store in 1957 and provided customers with whimsical experiences as they shopped for trinkets. “He was the father of the toy business,” his successor as CEO, Michael Goldstein, said. “He knew the toys and loved the toys and loved the kids who would shop in the stores. His face lit up when he watched kids playing with toys.”

The company fought against high debt and tight competition until they ultimately filed for bankruptcy in September 2017. The liquidation of their remaining inventory starts Thursday (Mar. 22).