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Toys “R” Us is a toy store chain headquartered in Wayne, New Jersey, United States. The chain also has locations in Europe, Asia, Oceania, Africa, and Canada. The company currently operates 840 stores in the United States and 716 stores in 34 other countries, with some of them under franchises or licenses. The flagship store in New York City’s Times Square is the largest toy store in the world, featuring a colorful Ferris wheel. It is the largest toy-centered retailer and the second largest overall toy retailer in the United States. Charles Lazarus initially started Children’s Supermart, which would later evolve into the modern day Toys “R” Us in Washington, DC during the post-war baby boom era in 1948 as a baby furniture retailer. Its first location was at 2461 18th St, NW, where the nightclub, Madam’s Organ Blues Bar is currently located. Lazarus began receiving requests from customers for baby toys. After adding baby toys, he got requests for more mature toys. Eventually, the focus of the store changed in 1957 and Toys “R” Us as it is known today was born in Rockville, Maryland. Toys “R” Us was acquired in 1966 by Interstate Stores, owner of the White Front and Topps Department Stores as well as Children’s Bargain Town USA, a sister toy store chain to Toys “R” Us in the American Midwest which would later be rebranded as part of the Toys “R” Us chain. The original Toys “R” Us store design in the 1970s and 1980s consisted of vertical rainbow stripes and a brown roof with a front entrance and side exit. Some brown roof locations still exist, although some were painted different colors or renovated in recent years.
In an effort to improve its company, the Board of Directors installed John Eyler, formerly of FAO Schwarz. Eyler launched an unsuccessful, and very expensive plan to remodel and re-launch the chain. Blaming market pressures (primarily competition from Wal-Mart and Target), Toys “R” Us considered splitting its toys and baby businesses. On July 21, 2005, a consortium of Bain Capital Partners LLC, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. (KKR), and Vornado Realty Trust invested $1.3 billion in new equity to complete the $6.6 billion leveraged buyout of the toy giant. Public stock closed for the last time at $26.74, just pennies from the 68-week high, but far short of its all time high of almost $45 in fourth-quarter 1993, and its five-year high of $31 in 2Q 2001. Toys “R” Us is now a privately owned entity. However, the company still files with the Securities and Exchange Commission as required by its debt agreements. On May 28, 2010 Toys “R” Us filed with the SEC to raise up to $800 million in an initial public offering. In early 2006, Toys “R” Us won a major battle against Amazon.com after years of bitter battles over their original 10 year contract made at the height of the dotcom boom at the turn of the century. The battle focused on exclusivity rights as viewed from both companies’ perspectives. The judge in the matter believed Amazon’s top officials were not completely forthcoming in their testimony during the trial: