If you’ve never been to the legendary FAO Schwarz store in Manhattan, now is the time. Rising rents are forcing the toy store to close in July.
Toys “R” Us, the store’s owner, said it is looking for a new Manhattan home for the 153-year-old brand, and one source told Bloomberg a new location may open in late 2016. Last week, Crain’s New York reported that FAO Schwarz was considering a move to Times Square.
“The company is committed to the FAO Schwarz brand and growing its legacy,” Toys “R” Us said in a statement. In the meantime, Toys “R” Us will continue to sell FAO-branded toys in its own stores and online.
Sales of toys have been on the upswing—in 2014, $18.08 billion of toys were sold online, 4% more than were sold in 2013, according to market research firm NPD Group—but Manhattan rent rises faster. On Fifth Avenue between 49th and 60th Streets, asking rents for ground floor space rose 15.2% in the first quarter of 2015 from a year prior, according to Cushman & Wakefield.
Founded in 1862, FAO Schwarz is America’s oldest toy store. Its flagship New York store was located at 745 Fifth Avenue for much of last century. It moved to its current location, at 767 Fifth Avenue, in 1986.
The store holds a special place in the heart of all children of the 1980s, as the place where Tom Hanks in Big played a giant piano with his boss, and got a promotion, thereby proving we are all children at heart—and that a high school education and college diploma are unnecessary for corporate success, as long as you know “Heart and Soul.”