1,052 Days have passed since Toys R Us closed its doors in Times Square. Manhattan has been starved from having a toy specialist amongst its myriad of stores for the first time in 100+ years.

At the height of the retail market, $100m of toy sales per year were traded through both FAO Schwarz Fifth Avenue and Toys R Us Times Square from 170,000sqft of retail space.

On the 16th November 2018, FAO Schwarz Flagship store was brought back to life, through its new owners ThreeSixty Group.
The ThreeSixty Group have predominantly been a manufacturing and distribution business with 40% of their product range in toys, until taking on the FAO Schwarz Brand.

The ThreeSixty Group have moved at pace to deliver the Flagship store in New York, along with securing a platform of distributors and franchise partners globally. Redlands Distribution Limited have been selected to distribute FAO Schwarz for the UK & Ireland market https://redlandsdistribution.com/fao-schwarz/

30 Rockefeller Centre is now the home for FAO Schwarz in Manhattan after previously trading on Fifth Avenue. The trading space has reduced from 70,000sq ft to 20,000sqft, however there is plenty of magic to be found within the store.

What can you find in the store?

Build Your Own Remote Control Car Experience

This is an interactive experience like never before! Three digital screens are placed around the dedicated area, where customers can choose one of four car shapes. They then move through the screens, choosing colour, wheels, tyres, trims, spoilers and finally stickers. The screen will show the customer what they are going to build and how the finished product will look!

The screen will then print off a receipt stating their selection.

Finally this gets handed to a mechanic who will pick all the items and place them on the workshop bench for the customer to build. Obviously, the mechanic is there at hand to help when required.

Once built, it gets placed in a FAO box ready to be taken home. Wow!

For those customers who do not have the time to build a RC, there are some pre-made models that can be picked off the shelf.

Adopt a baby experience

Babies are continuously born in the FAO Flagship and are looking for loving children to look after them. There is a selection of 6 dolls to choose from (I was assured there are more to come!).

Once chosen the child will be asked by a “nurse” a series of questions before being allowed to take the baby home. They will be shown how to look after and care for the baby.

There are additional items that can be bought for the baby, including a carry cot and clothing to add to the experience.

I have a feeling that this experience will continue to evolve as time goes on!

Bunnies by the Bay

Bunnies by the bay were showcased in the previous FAO Store and have returned for the new Flagship. The products are of premium quality and the brand is backed by such an authentic story.

Feel free to read the “Hareytale” on https://bunniesbythebay.com/pages/our-hareytale-about-us

The range includes plush bunnies, baby soothers, clothing and gifts.

The range of products are well displayed and co-ordinated. One of my favourite areas of the store!

#Mindblown experience

Discovery-Mindblown-Store-Layout

This was the most exciting area in terms of creativity and supports the new STEM lines from Discovery. The store delivery was exceptional with the experiment table, the store assistant dressed as a chemist and the products on display.

#Mindblown comes across as such a fun range of products, exposing children to innovative learning opportunities through exploring, experimenting, building, holding, creating with a host of products.

The #Mindblown products will be the STEM lines of choice for 2019.

Discovery-#Mindblown

Melissa and Doug Shop

Only FAO Schwarz would place a Melissa & Doug grocery store inside its store!

A mini grocery store with miniature trolleys are available to be pushed around and filled up with the pretend food. Children or should I say Parents can then pay for the food that they have collected and take home.

A full experience for the Melissa and Doug brand.

The BigPiano

This doesn’t need an introduction and based on the reception of the BigPiano, the experience will only continue to make their visits to FAO special.

The movie “Big”, elevated the BigPiano and FAO Schwarz as The Toy Store in Manhattan and made it a tourist attraction.

The BigPiano has the ability to lighten up everybody who dances on it.

The designers at Chute Gerdeman have taken the BigPiano to another level by having it on the ceiling as well as a floor. A must visit!

Other areas

In addition to the above, the usual suspects could be found with Marvin’s magic, Build-a-bear, a large transformer as well as the FAO Schweetz Department.

There were also one off products that could not be found anywhere else – The Swarovski Mercedes toy car that sold on the first day for $25,000!

The large plush which FAO Schwarz were known for are also back in full display.

Not all toys could fit in!

There were a couple of product ranges that were missing from the store (Lego, LOL, Hasbro Board Games, Hot Wheels…), which I am sure will be introduced over time. The store being only 20,000sqft will have restricted the ranges that were able to be showcased! It will evolve over time and I am sure space allocations will alter to allow more ranges to be showcased.

Summary

Overall the store delivered. The strapline “Return to Wonder” fits the return of the Flagship and the return of FAO Schwarz. Welcome back, we have all missed you! The magic has returned to New York!. Can’t wait for my next visit.

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