A success story with a simple beginning
Like many great enterprises, Lakeshore started with one person taking a chance. In this case, it was Ethelyn Kaplan, an Omaha homemaker who decided to pack up her family and move to California to open a toy store back in 1954. The move was a bit unconventional for a woman in 1950s America, but then again, entrepreneurs don’t typically follow the status quo. Initially, Mrs. Kaplan focused on selling toys to parents, but before long, local schools started calling her for art materials and other classroom supplies. Mrs. Kaplan listened to her customers. Sensing an untapped market, she sold the store and started Lakeshore Learning Materials.
See how we’ve grown!
Eventually, Mrs. Kaplan’s sons, Charles and Michael, joined the business—expanding operations and turning Lakeshore into a million-dollar company within just a few years. When Mrs. Kaplan retired in 1971, Michael assumed the duties of President and CEO, while Charles became the Vice President in charge of merchandise and buying. Today, Michael’s sons, Bo and Josh, are an integral part of the business—having worked their way up from summer jobs in the warehouse. Bo is now President and CEO, while Josh is Vice President of Merchandising. While Charles is now officially retired, Michael still serves as Chairman of the Board.
Lakeshore continues to offer the best products and service around—and we’re still expanding! In addition to our growing network of 50 retail stores, we offer two mail-order catalogs to meet the needs of parents, teachers and children worldwide. Plus, our full-service website offers instantaneous access to our catalogs as well as free activity ideas, an interactive classroom designer and much more.
At Lakeshore, we’re dedicated to our customers…
To this day, Lakeshore maintains the same strict standards that first made us great! Every product we make is distinguished by its quality, safety, educational merit and play value. And naturally, every Lakeshore product is backed by our ironclad guarantee: If you are unhappy with any item for any reason, you may return it for a full refund or exchange…no questions asked! If you have any questions or need help with an order, just contact our Customer Service department. We’ll make sure you get in touch with a real, live person who can address your needs. (We don’t like talking to machines, either.)
…dedicated to our employees…
Lakeshore employees are made to feel valued and appreciated for their hard work. Sure, we’re a multimillion-dollar company, and sure, we make some of the best educational products around—for teachers and parents all over the globe. But the best part about Lakeshore is that even as we’ve grown, we’ve held fast to the same small-company feeling that Mrs. Kaplan developed years ago. We’re a family here. And no matter how successful we are, we still have that entrepreneurial spirit present in everything we do.
…and dedicated to children near and far!
In addition to providing the best educational products for children around the world, Lakeshore nurtures children right here at home with our own on-site preschool, Kids & Company. A fully certified Nature Explore Classroom, Kids & Company provides a safe, stimulating environment for children of Lakeshore employees—and is just another example of Lakeshore’s commitment to early learning.