Founded by Charles Lazarus in its modern incarnation in 1957, Toys "R" Us traced its origins to Lazarus's children's furniture store, which he started in 1948. He added toys to his offering, and eventually shifted his focus. The company had been in the toy business for more than 65 years and operated around 800 stores in the United States and around 800 outside the US, although these numbers have steadily decreased with time.
Toys "R" Us expanded as a chain, becoming predominant in its niche field of toy retail. Represented by cartoon mascot Geoffrey the Giraffe from 1969, Toys "R" Us eventually branched out into launching the stores Babies "R" Us, Toys "R" Us Express, and the now-defunct Kids "R" Us.
The company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the U.S. on September 18, 2017, and has also filed for bankruptcy protection in Canada (see Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act). It was announced on March 14, 2018, that all Toys "R" Us stores in the United Kingdom would close. The next day, it was announced that the U.S. operations of Toys "R" Us were, after 70 years, going out of business and selling all 735 locations in the U.S. Discussion then turned to the fate of the Canadian branches.
The company owns or licenses 739 Toys "R" Us and Babies "R" Us stores in the United States and Puerto Rico, more than 750 international stores and more than 245 licensed stores in 37 countries and jurisdictions.
In 2015, the company launched the first of a new concept store called the "Toy Lab" in Freehold, New Jersey. The new layout provided more space for interactive exhibits and areas to play with new toys before purchase. This concept has since been expanded to stores in California, Delaware, Florida, New York and Pennsylvania.