Posted by Barry Silverstein on October 27, 2009 06:47 PM
For over 100 years, FAO Schwarz was widely regarded as the Tiffany of toys. Its renowned Fifth Avenue store in New York City became a must-see stop for visitors with (and without) children.
Founded in 1862 by a German, Frederick August Otto Schwarz (hence the "FAO"), FAO Schwarz expanded to as many as forty stores before it was unable to withstand an assault from value-priced competitors. The company succumbed to a few ugly 21st Century bankruptcies. In May 2009, the unthinkable occurred: the venerable brand name was purchased by discounter Toys 'R' Us.
But Toys 'R' Us has a present for all of us, just in time for the holiday season. The toy retailer, says the New York Times, is opening nearly 600 branded FAO Schwarz boutiques within its own stores, beginning November 1. The boutiques will incorporate the brand's iconic toy soldier, which stands outside the only two FAO Schwarz stores left -- the one in New York, and another at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas.
Despite selling the traditional FAO Schwarz annual holiday ornament and collectible teddy bear, toys at the boutiques will top out at around $65 -- unlike the Fifth Avenue store, which was known to sell exclusive high-priced items. But the FAO Schwarz holiday catalog, which will continue to be published, includes a $1499.99 Steiff Karl Lagerfeld Teddy Bear among other pricey items, says the Times. Toys 'R' Us has also relaunched the FAO.com website.
As for those boutiques, though, somehow the cachet won't be the same. I mean, FAO Schwarz in the same environs as Geoffrey the Giraffe?