Charles Lazarus, the founder of the toy and game retailer Toys ‘R’ Us, has passed away at the age of 94.
Lazarus opened up his first Toys ‘R’ Us store in 1957 in Maryland and grew the company from a single store to a sizable retail chain in the years that followed.
Lazarus stepped down from his role as CEO in 1994 and remained with the company as chairman for four years after, though he left a lasting impression on the company that persisted for the decades that followed.
For a period of time, Toys ‘R’ Us was a leading video game retailer in the United States as well. In 1999 the company was the #2 retailer for video games in the US, though the chain’s recent experience has been unfortunately less successful.
The once prolific chain that Lazarus started 70 years ago filed for bankruptcy protection in the US and Canada late last year and just last week announced that it is shuttering all of its 800 U.S. stores, ultimately costing 33,000 Toys ‘R’ Us employees their jobs in the process.
"There have been many sad moments for Toys ‘R' Us in recent weeks, and none more heartbreaking than today's news about the passing of our beloved founder,” said Toys ‘R' Us in a statement. "He visited us in New Jersey just last year, and we will forever be grateful for his positive energy, passion for the customer and love for children everywhere. Our thoughts and prayers are with Charles' family and loved ones."