FAO Schwarz’s new 20,000-square foot flagship New York City store will open Nov. 16 — a week before Black Friday — at Rockefeller Plaza, just in time for the unofficial launch of the holiday shopping season.
That opening coincides with holiday-time partnerships with European department stores and Canada's Hudson's Bay Co., according to a company press release. All 89 HBC stores will host the toymaker’s pop-up shops; Selfridges in London will open one in early November as part of their "Selfridges Rocks" holiday shop; Spain's El Corte Ingles will open one in Madrid in the same period; and in late October Australia's Myer Australia will open pop-ups in their Sydney and Melbourne stores as a part of their Giftorium Event.
The iconic toy retailer’s international expansion will continue in the new year with a 27,000-square foot flagship opening in Beijing in March, and with more stores and pop-ups planned over the next few years through a partnership with Kidsland China, the company also said.
FAO Schwarz was famous for being a store full of wonderment well before "experiential" become a retail industry buzzword.
The retailer's new owners clearly want to recapture that. "FAO Schwarz was built on in-store experiences, which has made it a global destination over the years," said David Conn, CEO of ThreeSixty Brands, which owns FAO Schwarz. "In partnering with these amazing companies around the world, we are able to bring back that 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."
ThreeSixty, which owns and licenses several brands, picked up the iconic brand from Toys R Us two years ago, after the now-defunct toy retailer had dismantled FAO Schwarz's famous New York presence. But Toys R Us, whose downfall is now poised to be a boon to its former sub-banner, was just one of several owners over the years.
Known for its store’s floor piano, human toy soldiers and intricate toy trains, FAO Schwarz was founded in 1862. Its Fifth Avenue store in the General Motors Building in Manhattan, where rents remain among the highest in the world, became a fixture in the cityscape. Toys R Us initially bought FAO Schwarz in 2009, but in 2015 shuttered the iconic 45,000-square-foot, three-level flagship store in Midtown to save money.
ThreeSixty has been steadily working on FAO Schwarz's comeback. In March the company inked a deal to bring the banner into airports, last year forged holiday partnerships with Kohl's and now-bankrupt department store retailer Bon-Ton and reintroduced updated renditions of some of its best-loved items, including the Piano Mat.