It's been a somber few weeks for those who had fond childhood memories of Toys R Us. First came word the company was planning to liquidate its US operations. Then Thursday news came that the man who founded the company 70 years ago, Charles Lazarus, a World War II veteran, has died. Lazarus was 94.
Toy R Us confirmed Lazarus' death in a statement Thursday.
The statement said, "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."
The liquidation sale of the company Lazarus founded was expected to begin Thursday after the company announced last week it was ceasing operations. But a person familiar with the matter said the liquidation sales were were delayed due to unforeseen circumstances and were likely to start on Friday. The person did not say what those circumstances are.
The New Jersey-based retailer, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in September 2017, announced earlier this year that it planned to close 182 stores, citing increased competition and a shift in customers moving away from traditional brick-and-mortar stores to shopping online for the decision.
But after Toys R Us was unable to successfully reorganize, it decided it had to liquidate and announced last week that it would begin going-out-of-business sales and hope to complete those by the end of June 2018.
Lazarus first opened a baby furniture store in Washington, D.C., in 1948 and opened the first store dedicated only to toys in 1957 and renamed it Toys R Us.
Lazarus stepped down as CEO of Toys R Us in 1994.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.