Toys "Я" Us
A collection of many Toys "R" Us stores, Northeast USA centered.

Toys "Я" Us evolved from founder Charles Lazarus' Children's Bargain Town U.S.A., a children's discount toy and furniture warehouse chain in 1968 with its earliest stores originating in Chicago, soon expanding into California, NY/Long Island and Washington DC metro and suburban areas. By the early 70's, the brand slowly transformed into Toys "Я" Us after financial woes with his parent company. Geoffrey the Giraffe served as the mascot who would exclaim "Toys R Us" in advertisements until becoming the face of Lazarus' enterprise in 1978.

Stores would retain the cross-branding as The Children's Bargain Town until around 1984 when shoppers in expanded markets likely drew confusion with the originating brand causing the company to retire the moniker.

Toys "Я" Us stores had once featured an iconic brown-capped roof with a drape of rainbow-stripe patterned " frontage. This theme follows what appeared to be a children's toy castle in era-chic mansard-style roof with a circus-like colorful curtain drape in a rainbow pattern with mascot Geoffrey peaking from above.

Variations on the classic design include four repeated, tall peaked slats, an array of colored stripes along twin entrance and exit gateways in the early 1970s. In 1978, the roof peaks and Geoffrey banner were noticeably of lower height.

By 1981, the now three-peaked roof stores, often considerably more compact looking would often be built in a "corner-wrapped" scheme to garner more exposure to high-traffic and crossroad areas as designated by the corporate strategy of placing stores beside or nearby major indoor shopping malls.

This prototype has solidified in a uniform look until around 1983 when expansion halted for international openings. These locations stick out further with commonly seen "glass-encased" exit canopies, which had been done away with around this time.

In 1983, Toys "Я" Us would accommodate sister brand Kids "Я" Us and would brand couple into Toys "Я" Us stores, often building combination stores or situating existing stores with Kids "Я" Us neighborly.

In 1985, stores would endure their final prototype which included a protruding "trailer" entrance based on the original design which would roll out until late 1989.

In 1990, the store's design was being reworked in response to customer feedback to brighten uninviting and dingy existing stores, moving away from the crudity of its self-service, warehouse-oriented origins.

By 1992, the company would arrive at a new uniform design: a white-brick clad variation of the 1985-style stores with a "trailer-style" vestibules with an array of colored tiles curtained over the entrances and frontage.

In 1996, then CEO launched a new era for Toys "Я" Us stores entitled "Concept 2000" whereby aging stores would brighten up even more with towering glass frontages and a rearranged store layout. A few variations rose under C2K including adapting the oldest stores with this fresh look, mostly focusing on more visibility, color and light entering stores.

By the 2000s, Toys "Я" Us still had many aging stores and an initiative to update these despite mass closures in 2003 and 2006. Many surviving, older stores still doning the 80's eras would become repainted and modified existing designs which quickly became known as the cheap or well identified bastardized remodeling era.

In 2003, Kids "Я" Us was dissolved and mostly phased out for the eclipse of successor offshoot brand Babies R Us though the Kids "Я" Us name would continue to don many stores across the USA.

In 2007, then CEO Eyler recognized the rise in the Babies "Я" Us brand, one that had (de)volved from Kids "Я" Us and planned to focus on the profitable brand. Elyer's goal would remodel many aging or long-overdue stores into existing Toys "Я" Us stores. These became known as "Я" Superstores.

Around this time until the current, stores that weren't profitable or viable enough to couple with Babies "Я" Us, also depending on areas that may have had ones existing, would continue leases and remain in older buildings by repainting or minimally modernizing storefronts.

By 2016, the company had rapidly slowed down aggressive remodeling efforts of past decades, leaving many 1992-era stores and even some from the 1980s in various incarnations leftover. Geoffrey and the rainbow-banner have been largely stamped out for simpler, integrated shopping center friendly storefronts that would age easier than thematic storefronts of past.

The classic brown-roof/rainbow-striped frontage is mostly phased out historically though preserved well as the face of Toys "Я" Us in the minds of children of 90's kids, at the latest. Few stores left still look as they did in their respective era (see: Montgomery, AL, Clay, NY and Boardman, OH).
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