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Kids Turn Toy News

FAO FAO SCHWARZ® CELEBRATES 150 YEARS OF CREATING MEMORIES AND INSPIRING JOY IN GENERATIONS OF CHILDREN

Visitors to the Famed Flagship Store Are Invited to Celebrate the Anniversary and Record Favorite Recollections of the Legendary Toy Emporium


WAYNE, NJ (May 2, 2012) – Throughout its storied history, FAO Schwarz has been a must-see destination for kids and kids at heart. Continuing the year-long celebration of its 150th anniversary, today the world renowned toy emporium unveiled a walk-around gallery dedicated to its heritage, pop culture status and strong New York ties. “The Story of a Legendary Toy Store,” is displayed prominently throughout the famed flagship location in New York City now through the end of June. In conjunction with this special gallery, visitors to the store will be encouraged to share their own memories of FAO Schwarz.

“Since 1862, FAO Schwarz has inspired warm memories in the minds of children and adults, including remembrances of receiving the perfect Christmas present, trips to New York City and the magical experience of entering our flagship store,” said Lisa Harnisch, Senior Vice President, General Merchandising Manager, Toys“R”Us, U.S. “Throughout our year-long celebration, we’ll highlight the rich history of FAO Schwarz, reminding visitors of how our world-famous store became a beloved New York institution and a pioneer in toy retailing.”

Sharing Memories About FAO Schwarz

While viewing “The Story of a Legendary Toy Store,” visitors are encouraged to share their stories of FAO Schwarz from Wednesday, May 23 through Tuesday, May 29. In a special “Memory Booth,” cameras and microphones will be standing by to capture anecdotes from one and all as they discuss their favorite memories of the iconic purveyor of unique toys. Highlights of the messages will be featured on the company’s Facebook page, as well as online at FAO.com.

To help create new memories of the legendary brand, FAO Schwarz will host a special celebration in its Fifth Avenue store on Wednesday, May 23, dedicated to the 150th anniversary. Customers are invited to stop by to offer their best wishes to FAO Schwarz on reaching its sesquicentennial.

FAO Schwarz Presents “The Story of a Legendary Toy Store”

Eight years after the company’s founding in Baltimore, MD, Frederick August Otto Schwarz opened his first location in New York City in 1870. Since that time, the brand has reached legendary status, creating enduring feelings towards its world-famous store, holiday catalog, one-of-a-kind toys, characters and more. Now, FAO Schwarz is honoring this legacy with 20 displays showcasing images of the company’s founder, storefronts in the Big Apple, vintage advertisements, original elements from Fifth Avenue flagship store’s Clock Tower and some of the brand’s most recognizable roles in pop culture.

Fans of FAO Schwarz can also view “The Story of a Legendary Toy Store” online at FAO.com. Additionally, items from the exhibit will be featured on the company’s timeline at Facebook.com/FAO.

For high resolution images of the items featured in “The Story of a Legendary Toy Store,” please visit: https://toysrus.sharefile.com/d/s9404fa5a416414f9.

“The Story of a Legendary Toy Store” Elements on Display at FAO Schwarz

Founder and Family

Frederick August Otto Schwarz (1836 – 1911)

Born in Herford, Westphalia, Germany, Frederick August Otto Schwarz immigrated to the United States in 1856. Driven by a love of toys and his vision to provide children with the most amazing products, Frederick stocked his store with exquisite playthings from Europe, creating a legacy that continues 150 years later.

Frederick, Gustav and Richard Schwarz

With his brothers Gustav and Richard, Frederick founded “Toy Bazaar” in Baltimore, MD in 1862. Gustav and Richard opened locations in Philadelphia and Boston, while Frederick opened his first store in New York City in 1870.

Frederick August Otto Schwarz Hall of Fame Induction (2012)

In honor of the company’s 150th anniversary, the Toy Industry Association inducted Frederick August Otto Schwarz into the Toy Industry Hall of Fame on February 11, 2012. The award is bestowed to individuals who have significantly impacted and influenced the toy industry.

Historic New York City Flagship Locations

39 – 31 West 23rd Street (1896 – 1910)

Originally located at 765 Broadway in New York City, the increasing popularity of FAO Schwarz caused the store to expand throughout the years. In 1896, FAO Schwarz moved to a six-story building on 23rd Street, pictured in the gallery, creating the largest toy store in the country.

FAO Schwarz Sales Ledger (1909)

Continuing from “A Gallery of Historic Toys” – standing 20-inches high, 14-inches wide and 5-inches thick, this antique ledger was used by FAO Schwarz associates to track international purchases and sales from 1909 to 1910.

303 Fifth Avenue (1910 – 1931)

After expanding its 23rd Street store to include neighboring buildings, FAO Schwarz moved to a 15,000-square-foot location on Fifth Avenue in 1910. FAO Schwarz has remained on Fifth Avenue ever since.

745 Fifth Avenue (1931 – 1986)

Moving uptown from 31st Street to 58th Street, FAO Schwarz more than doubled in size when it relocated to its new 33,000-square-foot store. Originally signing a 19-year lease, the store remained there for 55 years before moving to its current location in 1986. Included in the display are photographs of the store’s interior, including Christmas and train displays from 1938, as well as the book department from the 1960s.

Current FAO Schwarz Flagship Location

FAO Schwarz Flagship Store Opening Concept and Execution (1986)

When the current FAO Schwarz Fifth Avenue location celebrated its grand opening in New York City in 1986, the store was wrapped to create the magical feeling of opening a present. This display shows the concept design of wrapping the entrance, alongside a photo which captures the ceremony that turned the flagship location into the ultimate gift.

FAO Schwarz Flagship Store Opening Advertisement (1986)

A main attraction of the Fifth Avenue location from 1986 to 2004, FAO Schwarz introduced the animated Clock Tower in a drawing featured in full-page advertisements in New York Magazine and the New Yorker.

FAO Schwarz Clock Tower Blimp (1986 – 2004)

The famous FAO Schwarz Clock Tower was created with moving toys, storybook characters, vehicles and additional elements of childhood. Alongside toy trains, a yellow cab and a hot air balloon, a blimp adorned with the FAO Schwarz rocking horse logo circled the Clock Tower and is featured in the display.

FAO Schwarz Clock Tower Humpty Dumpty (1986 – 2004)

Bringing fantasy characters and stories to life, children were entranced by the FAO Schwarz Clock Tower where they discovered a pair of ruby slippers, Kermit the Frog and more. The giant Humpty Dumpty on display greeted fans of the famous nursery rhyme.

FAO Schwarz Clock Tower “Tin” Construction Workers (1986 – 2004)

Featuring a variety of different animated toys, the beloved Clock Tower that graced the main floor offered visitors a preview of the different wonders available in the store. Beyond the toy soldiers, a Steiff giraffe and a jack-in-the-box, many children fell in love with the “tin” construction workers featured in the display that made it their mission to keep the Clock Tower running.

Advertising, Branding and Catalogs

FAO Schwarz Vintage Advertisements (1891 and 1910)

After opening its New York City store, FAO Schwarz used newspaper and magazine advertisements to reach customers across the country, alerting them to the release of new holiday merchandise, as shown in an ad from 1891. A 1910 ad focuses on the company’s illustrated holiday catalog, featuring Santa riding a toy biplane, while promoting the mail order department.

FAO Schwarz Vintage Advertisements (1923 and 1941)

Throughout the 20th Century, FAO Schwarz alerted customers to the release of its annual catalog through newspaper and magazine advertisements. An ad from a 1923 issue of House and Garden magazine proudly proclaimed FAO Schwarz as the “Home of Toys,” featuring photos of select items from the company’s holiday catalog. In an ad from 1941, “unusual” toys took center stage, such as a doll with an audible heartbeat. The ad also included an order form customers could use to mail away for the holiday catalog.

FAO Schwarz Catalogs (1928 – 2011)

To bring the wonder of the store to customers around the country, in 1876, FAO Schwarz began mailing catalogs, creating among the first mail order businesses in the U.S. Featured are a selection of catalogs from the 20th century.

FAO Schwarz Vintage Advertisements (1948 and 1962)

Billed as “America’s Foremost Toy Store,” the 1948 holiday catalog ad focused on the convenience of shopping from home. Throughout the company’s history, FAO Schwarz has been a strong supporter of childhood literacy, often producing book catalogs, as seen in an ad from 1962.

FAO Schwarz Logos

Over the years, FAO Schwarz has redesigned its logo to keep up with contemporary times, while exhibiting a whimsical love of all things toys. Select logos from the company’s history are on display, including a rocking horse, building blocks and a toy soldier. The company recreated its logo in 2010, featuring Wit, a jester that adds a fairytale element of fun and surprise.

FAO Schwarz 100th Anniversary Advertisement Replica (1962)

Upon celebrating its 100th Anniversary, FAO Schwarz produced a full-page advertisement in the New York Times trumpeting its “centennial celebration.” To commemorate the event, FAO Schwarz buyers scoured the world to find 100 commemorative, exclusive toys to offer during the holiday season.

FAO Schwarz Spring Circular (1870)

Baby and doll carriages in many styles, wagons, rockers, leaping horses and velocipedes (a precursor to the bicycle) were among the featured items on the cover of the company’s 1870 Spring Circular.

Pop Culture

New Yorker Cartoon (1936)

Establishing itself as the ultimate toy store, FAO Schwarz has long been referenced in popular culture, including a satirical cartoon in the New Yorker in 1936, which shows a businessman releasing all of the store’s windup toys.

Big (1988)

Hollywood has regularly visited FAO Schwarz to create toy store scenes for television and movies, but none created more endearing memories than the piano dance scene with Tom Hanks and Robert Loggia from the movie, Big.

Patrick the Pup Storybook (1996)

After becoming a runaway hit when the overstuffed puppy was introduced in 1994, FAO Schwarz created a Patrick the Pup storybook to provide background to this plush pet. This easy reader for preschoolers follows Patrick as he searches his neighborhood for a new friend.

Smurfs (2011)

When the little blue characters from the Columbia® Pictures and Sony® Pictures Animation film The Smurfs were transported from their village to New York City, they landed at FAO Schwarz and created a stunt-filled chase with stars Neil Patrick Harris, Jayma Mays and Hank Azaria.


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About  FAO Schwarz

Since 1862, FAO Schwarz has been a brand synonymous with quality and innovation, offering an unparalleled selection of one-of-a-kind toys that have enchanted generations and cultivated a loyal clientele. In 2012, the brand commemorates its 150th anniversary as one of the most cherished retailers in the country with a year-long celebration of its storied history. The famous FAO Schwarz flagship store in New York City, which attracts millions of visitors annually, is the only one of its kind in the world.  The complete assortment of the company’s extraordinary merchandise, including a line of unique toys marketed under the FAO Schwarz brand name, can be found in-store and online at FAO.com. The iconic FAO Schwarz brand is exclusively operated by Toys“R”Us, Inc., the world’s leading dedicated toy and juvenile products retailer.

For additional information about the brand or its 150th anniversary, visit FAO.com and follow FAO Schwarz on Facebook at Facebook.com/FAO.