There has been an F.A.O. Schwarz toy store in New York City for the past 145 years! Rising rents in midtown Manhattan have claimed another victim: The F.A.O. Schwarz flagship store on Fifth Avenue will close its doors on July 15, 2015.
Frederick Schwarz was born in Herford, Westphalia. In 1856, Frederick, the youngest of three Schwarz brothers, emigrated to the U.S. joining his brothers in Baltimore, Maryland. Six years later, the brothers opened ''Toy Bazaar,'' their first toy retailing business. Following the success of ''Toy Bazaar,'' Frederick moved to New York City in 1870 where he opened his first toy store at 765 Broadway, a location that placed him at the center of what was then New York's most fashionable shopping district.
Schwarz is believed to have introduced the first live Santa Claus in December 1875; it inspired other stores, including Macy's, to offer their own versions. In 1896, Schwarz proclaimed the store as the "Original Santa Claus Headquarters" in New York.
In 1876 the company issued its first catalog, attracting an even wider consumer base. That same year Schwarz moved the business uptown, to larger quarters at 42 East Fourteenth Street.
By the end of the decade Schwarz was reputed to be the largest toy dealer in the world. Parents and kids were impressed by his e displays of handmade dolls with elaborate wardrobes, exotic stuffed animals covered with real fur, authentically detailed toy soldiers and models of full-rigged sailing vessels and working reproductions of trains and carriages.
In 1931, the New York City location moved to 745 Fifth Avenue into Squibb Building, the new Art Deco skyscraper. At one point, there were 40 locations across the United States, but the Fifth Avenue store is the last one remaining.
In May 2009, Toys "R" Us Inc. acquired FAO Schwarz and currently operates the retailer's flagship store as well as its e-commerce site, FAO.com.
Until they find a new place to set up shop in Manhattan customers will have to make their purchases online or at F.A.O. Schwarz boutiques inside of Toys "R" Us stores.
There are rumors that the new store will be open at the base of Paramount Group‘s 2.5-million-square-foot office tower at 1633 Broadway between West 50th and West 51st Streets, just in time for the 2016 Christmas season.