Toys R Us Got Its Start in DC's Adams Morgan Neighborhood

As Toys R Us says goodbye, let's look at how it all began.

The company famous for its sprawling toy stores across the country got its start as a family business in the Washington, D.C. neighborhood of Adam Morgan, where the bar Madam's Organ is now.

Toys R Us founder Charles P. Lazarus opened his first store there in 1948. He was born in the building, where his family lived on the second floor. On the first floor was a bicycle shop that his father ran. When Lazarus returned from World War II, he took over the business and made it his own.

At first, he sold baby furniture and called the store Children's Bargain Town.

Ten years later, he started selling baby toys, changed the store's name to Toys R Us and opened a second store, in New Jersey. The company's global headquarters would eventually be located there. 

Lazarus said in a previous interview that he changing his merchandise made good business sense.

"By the time the second baby came, [parents] didn't buy a new high chair, they didn't buy a new crib, but they did buy baby toys," he said.

At Madam's Organ today, symbols of the old Toys R Us remain. During remodeling about 25 years ago, one artifact was found.

"It was behind a wall and on the floor. We cleaned it up and it was some old clown face," Madam's Organ owner Bill Duggan said.

Now, the clown face hangs over the bar.

Some of the Toys R Us spirit remains, Duggan said.

"Children are still playing in here, just different games," he said.

Toys R Us says it will close its stores over the coming months.

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