#ReturnToWonder: FAO Schwarz Brings the Magic Back to the Big Apple

FAO Schwarz

Iconic toy retailer FAO Schwarz is making a splashy return to New York City with a broad range of products at an accessible price point.

The brand’s flagship store on Fifth Avenue was closed in 2015 when ownership was under Toys R Us. The new store is located at world-famous 30 Rockefeller Plaza.

The demise of Toys R Us left a hole in the toy market—and an opening for FAO Schwarz’s rebirth. Its products will also be sold in Hudson’s Bay and Kohl’s during the holiday season.

The store has refurbished its portfolio with the freshest and newest toys from digital devices to a grocer-store replica with shelves full of wooden facsimile products.

“FAO Schwarz was built on in-store experiences, which has made it a global destination over the years,” said David Conn, CEO ThreeSixty Brands, current owners of the FAO Schwarz brand. “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.”

The retailer is bringing back its famous toy soldiers, plush animals, the floor piano that shot to fame in the Tom Hanks film Big, as well as the three-story clock—now with a rocket ship as a centerpiece.

Featured brands in the 20,000-square-foot space include electronics from The Sharper Image, educational toys from Melissa & Doug, and the beloved stuffed animals from Steiff.

A Build-A-Bear Workshop station, a car racetrack, Barbie dolls galore, a candy shop, a magician’s corner  and FAO Schweetz-branded products are all inside.

The most luxurious item on sale is likely a child-size, drivable Mercedes-Benz encrusted with 44,000 Swarovski crystals: base price: $25,000.

Last week’s re-opening was a star-studded event that brought out Whoopi Goldberg, Bethenny Frankel, Neil Patrick Harris and David Burtka.

Seizing the trend and the season, the company is opening pop-up FAO shops for the holidays in England, Spain and Australia, while a store in Beijing is due to open in March. Smaller retail locations will also open in across the US and Canada.

“We are about experiences. That’s what’s different from other toy stores,” said David Niggli, FAO’s chief merchandising officer. “We have beautiful artisan pieces here, like rocking horses, but we also have items that are $10. There’s always going to be some of those over-the-top items…It’s part of the magic.”

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