FAO Schwarz Returns to Manhattan; Some Thoughts

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The very good news is that ThreeSixty Group, the owners of the FAO Schwarz brand, have secured space for a store in Manhattan. And what a space! The new location will be 30 Rockefeller Plaza (30 Rock), right next to the famed Rockefeller Center skating rink and Christmas tree. 

The new store will comprise 19,000 square feet, about one-third the size of the former location. The reduced size is understandable in lieu of the current cost of retail space in the city. 

Will this iteration of FAO Schwarz be successful? Here are some thoughts:

Location, location, location

You can't ask for a better space. Its right next to all of the tourist action which means that they should sustain some great foot traffic.

But will they buy

One day I stood outside the former Toys "R" Us Times Square (Toys "R" Us was the previous owner of the FAO Schwarz brand) and watched shoppers leave the store. What struck me was the number of people who left without making a purchase. They were tourists and they were excited to see the store but maybe not so excited to have to carry home a bunch of toys.

So, FAO Schwarz Rockefeller Plaza may attract lots of tourists but in order to make sales the store is going to have to create the excitement that comes from seeing a toy that you cannot find anywhere else.

The exciting and unique

To be successful, FAO is going to have to curate their toy selection. They simply cannot have what everyone else carries. Why pay more in the big city if you can find it at home for a lot less. That means taking a chance on smaller and foreign companies with unique products.

Will the new FAO Schwarz capture the magic of the past?

I sure hope so. I found the former store to be a bit sterile and missed the fun of all the props like the big clock. If they can give adults back the memories they had as children, however, then I think they will have a good chance of bringing in not just tourists but people who simply love toys.

Best of luck to FAO Schwarz in its new location. The kids need you and we do too. 

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