NEW YORK (FOX5NY.COM) - Charles Lazarus, the founder of the iconic and toy store chain Toys R Us, has died. He was 94.
The troubled New Jersey-based company, which is in the midst of bankruptcy proceedings and liquidation, confirmed the news on social media.
"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, Charles Lazarus," Toys R Us posted on Facebook. "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."
Lazarus opened a baby furniture store called Children's Bargain Town in Washington, D.C., in 1948. He later added toys and baby products to his inventory.
With the emerging success of supermarkets in the mid-1950s, Lazarus opened his first store devoted exclusively to toys in 1957 and called it Toys R Us, but spelled it on the logo with a backward "R" like a child might write it.
Lazarus stepped down as chairman and CEO in 1994.
The retailer, now owned by private equity, plans to liquidate its U.S. stores with massive discounts over the next few weeks.