FAO Schwarz has returned.
The iconic toy store opened the doors to its brand-new flagship on 16 November at Rockerfeller Plaza in New York City.
Christmas shoppers queued around the block to be among the first to tinkle the ivories on the toy store’s iconic walk-on piano, a returning fixture from the old NYC store made famous in the Tom Hanks movie Big. Among the crowds were the familiar faces of Whoopi Goldberg, Neil Patrick Harris and David Burtka, just some of the celeb toy-lovers who made an appearance for the ribbon cutting.
The FAO Schwarz brand was formerly owned by Toys R Us, which closed the previous New York store in July 2015 due to the rising cost of Manhattan rent. It later sold the FAO Schwarz brand to ThreeSixty Brands in 2016.
The newly opened location spans three stories and more than 20,000 sq.ft of retail space packed not just with a mix of FAO-branded toys and playthings from top suppliers, but a renewed focus on experiences to draw in the crowds
David Conn, CEO of ThreeSixty Brands, explains: “FAO Schwarz was built on in-store experiences, which has made it a global destination over the years.”
The new owners hope to recapture that status as a destination through in-store theatre, costume character appearances, magic demonstrations and more, and even called on supermodel Gigi Hadid to co-design the apple-red coats of the newly imagined FAO Schwarz soldiers.
“We are bringing back the wonderment of toys and a deep nostalgia for the larger than life experience that FAO Schwarz has offered to parents and children alike for over 150 years," David adds.
Brands on board to transform the store into a true emporium include Hasbro, Build-a-Bear Workshop, Marvin’s Magic, Discovery Mindblown, Mattel, Spin Master, Ravensburger and an array of other leading suppliers and brands.
Shoppers are invited to work alongside trained mechanics at FAO Raceway, for example, where they can build remote-control cars by picking out their individual body style, colour, wheels and designs. Or if they have a sweet tooth, visitors can head over to the FAO Schweetz department, a candy lovers dream courtesy of specialist retailer It’Sugar.