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when did fao schwarz close in nyc?

6 Answer(s) Available
Answer # 1 #

FAO Schwarz 23rd Street location in New York circa 1897. Frederick consolidated the two NYC stores and moved their location to the heart of Union Square before moving to 23rd Street. Courtesy of Toys “R” Us

The cover of the FAO Schwarz spring and summer goods catalog from 1911. The building is of the toy store’s 303 Fifth Avenue location. Frederick passed away the same year.Courtesy of the Smithsonian Libraries

Different store fronts photographed inside the catalog from 1911. Courtesy of the Smithsonian Libraries

FAO Schwarz moves to 745 Fifth Avenue, a location it would occupy for 55 years in 1931.Courtesy of Toys “R” Us

FAO Schwarz display window at it’s Fifth Avenue location in 1935.Courtesy of the Museum of the City of New York

A boy and girl looking at profusion of toys at FAO Schwarz store circa 1940. Read Fortune’s 1940 story about the store’s rise. Photograph by Arthur Gerlach

Santa and Mrs. Claus answering telephone calls in their workshop at FAO Schwartz circa 1947. FAO Schwarz set up a phone number for kids to speak to “Santa” and tell him their holiday wishes.Photograph by Martha Holmes — The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

People looking in the windows at FAO Schwartz’s toy store in 1958. Photograph by Eliot Elisofon — The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

Shoppers in front of the FAO Schwarz toy store, 59th Street and Fifth Avenue in New York, May 22, 1973.Photograph by Anthony Camerano — AP

A remote control TOMY robot offers children a cup of soda at FAO Schwarz in New York on November 30, 1985, as the Christmas shopping season began. This was the last year the toy store had at its 745 Fifth Avenue location. The store moved its flagship store to the current location. Photograph by Phillip Schoultz — AP

A still from the 1988 Hollywood blockbuster, “Big:” Robert Loggia, left, and Tom Hanks stand on a giant piano keyboard at the FAO Schwartz toy store. The piano became a major tourist attraction at the store. Courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox

Children play video games at FAO Schwarz on November 18, 1993. The toy store became the first retailer to sell the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) in the U.S. in 1985. Photograph by Mark Peterson — Corbis

Children surround a “Furby” at the opening of the FAO Schwarz “Furby Shop” in New York on October 2, 1998. The Furby became one of the hottest toys in the Christmas retail market. FAO hosted the launch event. Photograph by Ray Stubblebine — Reuters

Shoppers enter the FAO Schwarz flagship store on Fifth Avenue in New York, on December 5, 2003. The owner of FAO Schwarz toy stores filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.Photograph by Diane Bondareff — AP

A nearly 15-foot bronze bear from FAO Schwarz is placed on a ferry heading to Bainbridge Island in Seattle on January 25, 2004. Doug Hartley purchased the bear on eBay for approximately $11,800. He planned to display it in front of his child care center.Photograph by Ron Wurzer — Getty Images

FAO Schwarz was purchased by D. E. Shaw & Co. in 2004. The new owners redesigned the store to reopen Thanksgiving Day.Photograph by Redux

Customers shop for Barbie products at the New York store on November 7, 2008. Toys “R” Us acquired the toy store the following year.Photograph by Spencer Platt — Getty Images

The inside of FAO Schwarz is pictured on May 18, 2015. The famous toy store, opened in 1862 and in its current location since 1986, will be closing in July 2015 due to rising rents. Photograph by Timothy A. Clary — AFP/Getty Images

Answer # 2 #

FAO Schwarz is an American toy brand and store. The company is known for its high-end toys, life-sized stuffed animals, interactive experiences, brand integrations, and games.

FAO Schwarz claims to be the oldest toy store in the United States, first opening its doors in 1862 in Baltimore before moving to New York City, where it has moved between several locations since 1870. The dance-on piano, made famous by the 1988 Tom Hanks film Big, brought national attention to the brand. FAO filed for bankruptcy twice in 2003 before temporarily shuttering the Fifth Avenue store in January 2004. In May 2009, Toys "R" Us Inc. acquired FAO Schwarz, but in 2015, it permanently closed the Fifth Avenue store. The brand was then acquired by ThreeSixty Group, who opened the new FAO Schwarz store at 30 Rockefeller Plaza in November 2018. In 2019 locations in Chicago, Beijing, London and Dublin were opened.

The "FAO Schwarz" brandname and trademarks are owned by the FAO Schwarz Family Foundation and exclusively licensed to the ThreeSixty Group who own and operate the retail locations.

FAO Schwarz was founded in 1862 in Baltimore under the name "Toy Bazaar" by German immigrant Frederick August Otto Schwarz.

In 1870, Schwarz opened a New York City location known as the "Schwarz Toy Bazaar" at 765 Broadway, which moved to 42 E. 14th Street in Union Square in 1880 and operated at that location until April 28, 1897, when it took over two vacant store locations at 39 and 41 W. 23rd Street. That year, The New York Times declared Schwarz as "the largest dealer in toys in this city."

Beginning in November 1869, the Schwarz Toy Bazaar held an exhibition of toys that would be available for the Christmas season. In 1896, Schwarz proclaimed the store as the "Original Santa Claus Headquarters" in New York. The FAO Schwarz holiday catalog has been published annually since 1876.

In 1931, the New York City location moved to 745 Fifth Avenue, where it operated for 55 years. In 1963, FAO Schwarz was purchased by Parent's Magazine Enterprises. The terms of the deal read that it would license the name FAO Schwarz and continue using it for a maximum of five years before dropping the name, while still paying the Schwarz family a royalty on sales. However, the lease was renewed as the owners felt the name was too significant to lose. Part of the price of keeping the name was to keep the royalty agreement, and the Schwarz family set up a foundation to fund opportunities for young people to work in nonprofit with the income the royalties were making. Nine percent of the company remained in the hands of the Schwarz family. The company subsequently sold to W.R. Grace in 1970, and then to toy retailer Franz Carl Weber of Zurich, Switzerland, in 1974.

In 1985, Christiana Companies, a company based in San Diego, California, owned FAO Schwarz for one year. In 1986, Peter Harris, with the help of Philadelphian investment banker Peter Morse, bought the company under Morse Partners Ltd. and moved the toy store across 58th Street to the General Motors Building at 767 Fifth Avenue at 58th Street. FAO Schwarz was sold to Netherlands-based NV Koninklijke Bijenkorf Beheer (later renamed Royal Vendex/KBB NV) in 1990. Throughout the 1990s, new FAO Schwarz stores opened across the United States; by 2000, the company had 40 locations.

In 2001, the Calabasas-based toy retailer Right Start, Inc. purchased 23 of the 40 stores, including the Fifth Avenue flagship store, from Royal Vendex for somewhere between $50 to $60 million.

In 2002, Right Start Inc. changed its corporate name to FAO Inc. operating stores under The Right Start, Zany Brainy and FAO Schwarz names. On December 17, the company projected they would find bankruptcy if its bank did not relax borrowing restrictions. On January 13, 2003, FAO Inc. filed for bankruptcy, but emerged from it three months later in April. The company filed for bankruptcy a second time in December 2003. All 13 remaining FAO Schwarz locations closed in January 2004 as a result of the bankruptcy, with the flagship Fifth Avenue store expected to reopen in July of that year but the others closing permanently. The Fifth Avenue store reopened several months later than planned on Thanksgiving Day 2004, redesigned and renovated to accommodate a growing number of tourists, and the Las Vegas location at The Forum Shops at Caesars ultimately remained open until 2010.

In February 2004, investment firm D. E. Shaw & Co., L.P., acquired the FAO Schwarz stores in New York and Las Vegas, as well as FAO Schwarz's catalog and internet business. The New York and Las Vegas stores were reopened on Thanksgiving Day 2004. In November 2007, FAO Schwarz acquired premium children's clothing company Best & Co., which had plans to expand, but the company ceased business in 2009.

In May 2009, Toys "R" Us Inc. acquired FAO Schwarz. In 2009, Toys "R" Us subsequently put temporary FAO Schwarz boutiques in its U.S. Toys "R" Us stores for the holidays, and in October 2010, the concept was expanded into permanent boutiques in Toys "R" Us stores. In addition, FAO Schwarz-branded infant and toddler items are available in all of its Babies "R" Us stores nationwide. The company closed the Las Vegas location in January 2010, followed by its previous flagship New York store.

In October 2016, ThreeSixty Group, Inc. acquired FAO Schwarz from Toys ‘R’ Us, Inc.

The FAO Schwarz brand is currently the property of the descendants of the founder through the FAO Schwarz Family Foundation but is exclusively operated by ThreeSixty Group. In August 2018, ThreeSixty Group announced plans to open two new FAO Schwarz stores in New York. The one at 30 Rockefeller Plaza in Rockefeller Center opened on November 16, 2018. Public transit access is available at 47-50 Streets Rockefeller Center Station. The second opened at LaGuardia Airport in December 2018.

In October 2018, FAO Schwarz pop-up stores opened at 90 Hudson's Bay Company stores across Canada, just ahead of the Christmas holiday season, to remain open through the holidays. In March 2019 a store opened at Chicago Midway Airport.

In November 2021 a store opened in Milan.

FAO Schwarz is known for its large assortment of plush animals and the Piano Dance Mat, a smaller replica of The Walking Piano featured in the Tom Hanks film Big. FAO Schwarz also features limited-quantity luxury items including a drivable, child-size automobile encrusted with over 40,000 crystals and valued at US$25,000.

In addition to its own line of products, FAO Schwarz carries brands including Steiff, the world's oldest German designer of stuffed animals; Melissa & Doug, a leading designer and manufacturer of educational toys; and Build-A-Bear Workshop, a make-your-own experience featuring a selection of exclusive FAO Schwarz stuffed animals and accessories, among other in-store retail partners.

When Kinectimals: Now with Bears! was released, the brand also released an exclusive teddy bear plush with a scan tag.

Through the years, the FAO Schwarz logo has had versions that included a teddy bear, toy blocks, a toy soldier, rocking horse and an animated clock tower. In 2010, the FAO Schwarz logo was redesigned in colors of red and silver. The new logo emphasized the initials of company founder, Frederick August Otto Schwarz. It also debuted a company mascot, Wit. In 2017, FAO Schwarz hired design studio, Mattson Creative, to rebrand the FAO Schwarz logo and packaging. Mattson Creative also created the store's reopening tagline and hashtag, "Return to Wonder".

The New York store was featured in the 1988 Tom Hanks film Big, in which Hanks and Robert Loggia danced "Heart & Soul" and "Chopsticks" on the store's large dance-on piano.

The store's interior was the inspiration for the fictional "Duncan's Toy Chest" featured in the 1992 film Home Alone 2: Lost in New York.

In 1995, the store was featured in Woody Allen's Mighty Aphrodite in the final scene where main characters Lenny and Linda have a chance encounter. It is also featured in Baby Boom (1987) and Big Business (1988), among others.

In the 1999 remake of the musical film Annie, during the song "NYC", the characters Oliver Warbucks, Grace, and Annie join a crowd of people all admiring an impressive Christmas themed window display containing a sign that reads "F.A.O. Schwarz".

In the 2010 film Toy Story 3, when Buzz Lightyear is captured, Lots-o-Huggin' Bear unties him and indirectly references FAO Schwarz in a euphemism: "Oh F-A-O my Schwarz".

In 2011, the store was featured in The Smurfs during a chase scene. Scenes from the movie were shot over five nights in May 2011.

In the 2019 episode of The Simpsons, "Crystal Blue-Haired Persuasion", a healing crystal shop is named "FAO Quartz".

In the 2021 series Hawkeye, the climax of the battle between Kate Bishop and Wilson Fisk occurs in the 30 Rockefeller Plaza location. The actual name of the shop is obscured.

Zayn Troyer
Diabetes Nursing
Answer # 3 #

FAO Schwarz is coming back to Manhattan.

The iconic toy store brand, known for its interactive displays like a giant piano, is opening up a new store in Rockefeller Plaza, according to the Wall Street Journal. The store is opening soon, and will be ready for the holiday rush.

FAO Schwarz was originally known for its iconic store on Fifth Avenue, where kids and adults alike could come and experience the glee of standing on a giant piano. The new store is about five blocks south of the old one.

The store is being developed by Threesixty Group, a product developer and distributor, which purchased the entire brand from Toys R Us in 2016. Threesixty did not disclose the terms of the store's lease of the 20,000 square foot of prime tourist-friendly real estate, but it was previously reported to be long-term.

The store will be experiential, featuring product demonstrations with employees, magicians, and employees dressed up as characters, such as toy soldiers, the Journal says.

The new FAO Schwarz store has a chance to capture some of the sales and glitz of its former parent company, Toys R Us, which closed up shop for good in the US this year, completely liquidating all of its stores.

Toys R Us was also known for its high profile Manhattan stores, like its enormous location in Times Square, which was a destination for holiday shopping and wish list making.

The Rockefeller Plaza FAO location is planned to be just the first in a string of stores to revive the brand. WSJ reports that the brand is also looking to open a smaller location in LaGuardia Airport this year, and in China in the future.

Chili Dorsky
Ring Girl
Answer # 4 #

The store planned a day full of festivities at their Rockefeller Plaza flagship on Saturday including performers of all kinds as well as sweet treats for anyone in attendance.

The giant toy store is a wonderland for children and parents alike and has braved many economic storms since its original New York City storefront opened on East 14th Street in back 1880.

Its Rockefeller Center store closed for a few months during the coronavirus pandemic but reopened in August 2020.

Before that, its Fifth Avenue location, where it had resided for 29 years, closed in 2015 due to rising rent before reopening at its current spot in 2018.

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Nasir Augustine
Pediatric Nursing
Answer # 5 #

In May 2009, Toys "R" Us Inc. acquired FAO Schwarz, but in 2015, it permanently closed the Fifth Avenue store.

Tedi Patino
Answer # 6 #

767 Fifth AvenueNew York, New York 10153U.S.A.Telephone: (212) 644-9410Fax: (212) 688-6053Web site:

Wholly Owned Subsidiary of Vendex International N.V.Incorporated: 1862Employees: 1,400Sales: $197 million (2000 est.)NAIC: 451120 Hobby, Toy, and Game Stores

FAO Schwarz operates a chain of more than 40 high-end toy stores around the United States, with its flagship outlet and headquarters located on Fifth Avenue in New York City. The company is renowned for offering the most exclusive and expensive toys available, but its approach has broadened in recent years to include more mainstream items as well. The firm has been through a series of owners since the Schwarz family sold it in 1963, with the Dutch retail conglomerate Vendex International the most recent, having acquired it in 1998.

FAO Schwarz traces its beginnings to the Civil War era, when German immigrant Frederick August Otto Schwarz opened a toy store in Baltimore, Maryland, that specialized in dolls. In 1870 the store, known as Schwarz Toy Bazaar, moved to a location on Broadway in New York City, where Frederick Schwarz and his three brothers made a name for themselves by importing fine European toys. The growing business needed new quarters just a decade later, when it was moved to Union Square. After several further moves, FAO Schwarz (as it had become known) settled in 1931 at 745 Fifth Avenue, in the heart of Manhattan’s most prestigious shopping district. The elegant new store featured a marble staircase and a slide that went from the first floor down to the main level. Schwarz toy displays were legendary, with the Christmas season’s elaborately decorated windows a tourist destination in their own right. The name FAO Schwarz had by then become synonymous with the most exclusive, imaginative, and expensive toys available, and the store’s clientele was drawn from the elite of New York.

The Schwarz family continued to run the store until the early 1960s, when a lack of interest among the younger generation led family members to decide to sell it. In 1963, it was purchased by Parent’s Magazine, who just seven years later sold it to W.R. Grace & Co. Grace, too, lasted for only a short while, selling the company to toy retailer Franz Carl Weber International of Zurich, Switzerland, in 1974. By this time Schwarz had opened stores in several locations outside of New York. The chain’s momentum faltered under the distant oversight of Weber, however, which saw less attention given to discovering new, innovative merchandise. Sales were also being lost to aggressive new discount toy and department store chains. By the early 1980s, Schwarz appeared to be in serious trouble. The chain of stores, which had grown to 32, soon shrank by ten as unprofitable outlets (some in hotel lobbies) were closed. The surviving stores included sites in Boston, San Francisco, Chicago, and New Orleans, as well as in a number of suburban locations. In 1985, Weber decided to abandon ship and sold the company to real estate and investment firm Christiana Companies, Inc. for $10.5 million. At this time Schwarz had annual revenues of approximately $20 million.

Just a few months later the firm’s ownership changed yet again, this time when it was acquired by Christiana Companies president and CEO Peter L. Harris and a Philadelphia-based investment banker, Peter C. Morse. The 42-year old Harris was an 18-year veteran of California retail chain Lucky Stores, where he had served as president of its Gemco discount chain. He had earlier attempted unsuccessfully to acquire Schwarz on his own, before linking up with Christiana. Harris assembled a new management team of executives with retail experience at Macy’s, The Gap, and other major retailers, and began to tackle Schwarz’s myriad problems. One of the first ideas to be implemented was a broadening of the store’s merchandise to offer a wider range of items, though the exclusive high-end toys the store was known for would not be abandoned. New trends and fashions were again sought out, the company’s mothballed catalog was revived, and personal shopping services and home delivery were added. Another important change was the relocation of the chain’s flagship store at 745 Fifth Avenue to a space across the street at 767 Fifth. The new store would fill 2 stories and 40,000 square feet at the foot of the General Motors Building, beginning in late 1986.

The converted GM auto showroom, which had entrances on both Fifth and Madison Avenues, was a third larger than the old store. The new location’s redesigned interior also featured a more open layout that included 80 specialty boutique areas, prominent escalators, and lots of window space. For its grand opening, the store was wrapped in red cloth and a white bow, with a large card that said “Do Not Open Until November 6.” New York mayor Ed Koch presided over the opening ceremony, which featured balloons and a parade of costumed toy characters. The new store was much more fanciful and “touchable” than the previous one, though it still offered the company’s trademark selection of everything from teddy bears to a $12,500 half-size Ferrari car capable of reaching 30 miles an hour. There were also children’s clothes, a kids’ hair salon, and even gourmet peanut-butter and jelly sandwiches. The middle of the store featured a 28-foot tall, computer-programmed animated clock tower that played a song called “Welcome to Our World of Toys” every 15 minutes, and there was a glass-walled elevator and a life-size cave, among many other child-pleasing amenities. In addition to the toys available in the store, Schwarz’ catalog contained even more elaborate gift options, including a cartoon written by and starring one’s child ($180,000), an African Safari adventure ($50,000) and a 14-child overnight party at the New York store that included airfare, a stretch limousine, accommodations at the Plaza, and a tour of the city led by a costumed Pinocchio character ($18,000).

The new store was a huge hit with the public, and in 1988 it was featured in a scene in the popular Disney movie Big in which characters played a huge piano by jumping on the oversized keys. Schwarz was subsequently deluged with requests for the $15,000 instrument and a smaller model that cost $6,250. The company, which did not advertise, was frequently mentioned in children’s books and movies, a testament to its reputation as the ultimate toy store in the world.

The latter half of the 1980s saw Harris and his team continuing to fine-tune Schwarz operations, with under-performing locations closed and a new superstore opened in San Francisco. The latter featured a miniature city with a drive-in theater that showed the film Godzilla on a 2-inch screen, among other imaginative details. Venture capital funding of $7 million was obtained to help with the company’s evolution, and by 1990 sales had more than doubled to approximately $50 million. Schwarz, now operating solidly in the black, was also readying new stores for Beverly Hills, Chicago, and Boston.

In 1990, the company was sold yet again, this time to Dutch retail giant NV Koninklijke Bijenkorf Beheer (KBB), for an estimated $40 million. Chairman and co-owner Peter Morse left the company, while Peter Harris and the remainder of his management team remained in place. KBB had sales of $2.4 billion for 1989, and its deep pockets were expected to fund further expansion of the chain, perhaps including Europe and Japan.

The year after the sale the company announced plans to open seven more new stores, including two in the Boston area and a second, 30,000-square foot location in Chicago’s North Michigan Avenue shopping district. The latter would be Schwarz’s fourth in the metropolitan area. 1992 saw turnaround guru Peter Harris step down to move to the San Francisco Bay area, where he would several years later be named president of the 49ers football team. He cited family reasons for his decision to leave. His place was taken by 44-year-old John Eyler, the Harvard-educated CEO of Hartmarx Specialty Stores, Inc. of Chicago.

In the fall of 1992, Schwarz opened its first “Barbie Boutique” at the Fifth Avenue location, a store-within-a-store dedicated entirely to the venerable, hourglass-figured Mattel doll. An expanded bookstore, “Bookmonster,” was added during the year as well. More new stores were opened in 1993, including 12,000 square foot “mall flagship” units in Bellevue, Washington; Costa Mesa, California; and St. Louis, Missouri. The company was in the process of upgrading its non-New York sites, trying to give each some of the glamour of the Fifth Avenue store, which the public had come to expect via its frequent appearances in movies and on television.

By the mid-1990s, Schwarz’s profits were again dropping, partly due to the competitive toy marketplace, which had seen a number of chains fail under the dominance of Toys “R” Us and discounters like Target and Wal-Mart. The company was also hurt by its higher cost of doing business, which included the fanciful decorative elements each store now featured.

In 1995, the company introduced a line of exclusive licensed products in conjunction with the American Museum of Natural History. Later in the year Schwarz invested in and co-produced the Broadway musical version of the movie Big which featured a recreation of the scenes in the Fifth Avenue store. The $9 million production opened the following April.

FAO prides itself in offering unique products in an unforgettable environment. Management designed its stores to interact with customers in a manner which distinguishes itself from other retailers. Considered the leading specialty seller of toys and collectibles in the United States, FAO is a mecca for toy lovers from all over the world.

In 1996, Schwarz began to introduce a new concept, FAO Schweetz, an interactive store-within-a-store in some of the company’s locations which offered canister-filled and bulk candy. The company had previously sold the products under a licensing agreement in New York and San Francisco, but acquired the manufacturer and set up the business as a division. The company’s older store on North Michigan Avenue in Chicago was later completely converted into a Schweetz outlet.

Schwarz allied with television marketing giant QVC in 1997 to offer specialized merchandise and FAO Schwarz-branded products on a 2-hour program called “FAO Schwarz—The Premier.” In the summer of the year, new “mega-flagship” stores were readied for the tourist destinations of Orlando, Florida, and Las Vegas, Nevada, while the Manhattan store prepared to expand from 40,000 square feet to 60,000. By this time the company had a total of 39 locations, including 23 mall flagship sites and 12 smaller stores. Schwarz also distributed 6 million copies of its catalog to customers worldwide, which generated 11 percent of total sales. A third of its merchandise was exclusive to the chain, while another third was considered hard to find and the remainder consisted of mass-marketed goods like Barbie. The average item cost $26, with the Mattel doll the single most popular item. During this time the company was expanding its line of house-branded toys, as well as those offered in partnership with major manufacturers, such as the “F.A.O. Barbie” which sported fashionable clothes, an F.A.O. bag, and a credit card.

In the realm of cyberspace, where the company had first established its presence with the launch of in 1995, Schwarz reached revenue-sharing deals with a number of Web-based companies such as Prodigy and Yahoo! to sell toys over the Internet. A marketing deal with General Motors was also signed in January of 1998 in which the GMC “Jimmy” Sport Utility Vehicle was designated the “Official Big Kids Toy” at all of the chain’s stores. Schwarz would sell a toy version of the SUV and insert GM advertising literature into shopping bags with purchases. The two companies’ Web sites were linked as well. In early 1998, Schwarz’s ownership changed when KBB was acquired by another Dutch retailer, Vendex International.

During the summer of the year, the hit movie Titanic spawned a series of toys that were produced by Schwarz in conjunction with film studio 20th Century Fox, including a $395 doll and a Baccarat crystal rendering of the ship priced at $2,500. Controversy arose in the fall when allegations of racist treatment of employees surfaced in a lawsuit filed by eight former workers at the Fifth Avenue store. The complaints centered upon a single manager, who subsequently left the firm. 1998 was a weak year sales-wise, with the company’s heavy promotion for the film Babe: Pig in the City failing to pay off when the film did poorly. Vendex later began floating rumors that the chain was for sale, although a deal did not materialize.

Continuing to move forward, in 1999 Schwarz signed a host of new licensing agreements that brought in additional exclusive products, such as Creative Optics eyewear and lines of clothing and furniture. The company also unveiled a new corporate logo and redesigned store interiors. The rebranding was intended to impart a more playful and cartoon-like ambience, with the company’s longstanding rocking horse icon retained as a design element. A new slogan, “Wish Big,” replaced the previous one, “We’re Serious About Play.” An additional Internet marketing agreement, with San Francisco-based Family, was also announced in 1999.

January of 2000 saw the company lose its top officer, John Eyler, to rival Toys “R” Us. Eyler took the positions of president and CEO with the discount chain, which was now dealing with a variety of problems. Among other achievements, Eyler was credited with greatly boosting the percentage of exclusive items offered in Schwarz stores. He was replaced by Bud Johnson, Schwarz’s president and chief operating officer. Schwarz subsequently filed suit against both Toys “R” Us and Eyler, alleging “irreparable harm” would result from his changing employers. The same year, 2000, also saw a new store opened in Atlanta’s Mall of Georgia, which was the first to be built around the revised brand identity. Other developments included formation of an alliance with Discovery Communications to offer its Exploration Toy Shop inside the Fifth Avenue store, and a redesign of the Schwarz Web site.

In 2001, a new concept, FAO Baby, was launched, first as a department in the Fifth Avenue store, and then as a freestanding outlet in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, where it replaced an older store. FAO Baby was divided into separate boutiques from different manufacturers, such as Baby Gund, Lamaze, Fisher Price, and Playskool. As in Schwarz’s other stores, the emphasis was on upscale toys and clothing attractively displayed. The firm also worked during the year with Irwin Toy to develop products for preschoolers based on the PBS television series Caillou.

As the company approached the Christmas shopping season of 2001, rumors were again surfacing that owner Vendex was seeking a buyer for Schwarz, reportedly due to the Dutch firm’s desire to focus on its European operations. Expansion plans were nonetheless ongoing, with new large locations expected to open in both San Francisco and Los Angeles in 2002. In the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on New York City and Washington, D.C., the firm announced it would partner with New Yorkers For Children, making a donation to that organization’s special fund for children and families affected by the collapse of the World Trade Center.

Celebrating its 140th anniversary, FAO Schwarz remained the world’s premier toy retailer, known for its imaginative and expensive offerings, as well as for the wonder-inspiring environments of its stores. Although the possibility of new ownership was yet again on the horizon, the company was continuing to do what it had done best for generations: satisfying the cravings of children for the toys of their dreams.

FAO Schweetz; FAO Baby.

Toys “R” Us, Inc.; Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.; Target Corp.; K-B Toys.

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Atiar Chatterjee