FAO Schwarz is a real institution in the Big Apple and has earned the status of icon for its presence in many American films. FAO Schwarz is one of the biggest and oldest toy stores in the United States and every New Yorker (not just the children) was sad to learn that its famous (and only) location on 5th Avenue in Manhattan would close back in July, 2015. But, luckily, it wasn’t a permanent closure and the store has surprisingly reopened at the end of last year.
As was foreseeable, its reopening aroused much enthusiasm and made the news and, the fact that it was scheduled in the month before Christmas, was not at all random but it was actually a great marketing move because this is the month in which the Christmas shopping season begins and FAO Schwarz became the place to be for Christmas toy shopping.
The new headquarters of the shop are located inside the Rockefeller Plaza mall so the store moved just five blocks away from its previous location in the heart of Fifth Avenue, in front of the Waldorf Astoria hotel (another landmark in New York, currently closed and undergoing a complete restoration, it is planned to reopen in about three years).
Over the years, the store became a tourist attraction to all intents and purposes, but management costs and strong competition with online competitors had led it to announce its closure.
It was also reported that the previous space was too expensive but why the shop remained closed for three long years nobody knows. FAO Schwarz has always been a point of reference for everyone since its opening back in 1862.
During its one hundred and fifty years of activity it certainly made happy all its customers.
Inside the new location there is in an area of about 200 square feet, where everyone can enter into a sort of Toyland. It is much more than just a shopping address: it is a sort of amusement park where everyone, young and old people alike, are invited to live intense moments of carefreeness because they can actually play with the toys and try them.
Employees take on the role of costumed characters and wizards who revel in demonstrations and interact with the public and in the new store there is still the legendary piano on which Tom Hanks dances in the movie Big from 1988. A scene that made history and gave popularity to FAO Schwarz worldwide.
Apparently, the opening of the store at Rockefeller Plaza could only be the first of a long series of new openings that should interest LaGuardia airport and even some oversea locations in Asia.
Originally founded by a German immigrant, Sir Frederick August Otto Schwarz (hence F.A.O. Schwarz), the shop’s first name was simply the Toy Bazaar in Baltimore.
In a short time the shop became a reference point in the world of toys and other branches were opened in Boston, Philadelphia and New York. That of New York became the most famous one and it remained the only one open in the States hence becoming a true Mecca for toy lovers.
The place enjoyed a strategic location: near the Apple store, Tiffany and just at the south entrance of Central Park and the new location has an amazing location too. Just look for it on the opposite end of Central Park, in the Upper West Side.