FAO Schwarz in global expansion as part of comeback strategy
FAO Schwarz unveiled ambitious plans for its return to retail.
The storied toy retailer has set an opening date of November 16 for its Manhattan flagship, which will be located at 30 Rockefeller Plaza. It will mark the company’s return to the Big Apple after it closed its landmark Fifth Avenue store in 2015, and opens months after FAO’s former owner, Toys “R” Us, filed for bankruptcy and shuttered all its U.S. stores.
The 20,000-sq.-ft. Rockefeller Plaza location will feature FAO’s signature retail experiences, including its iconic dance-on-piano, along with magic shows, a kids’ grocery shopping experience, and a build-your-own RC race car station, among others. It will also sell the brand’s signature toys, and items from such partners as Build-A-Bear and FAO Schweetz (in partnership with It’Sugar.)
FAO is also expanding into Canada, with plans to open permanent in-store shops across Hudson’s Bay’s 89 stores. The shops will range in size from 300 sq. ft. to 1,000 sq. ft. Merchandise will also be available online.
The retailer is also giving its brand exposure outside of North America, with holiday pop-ups in several major department stores. The retailer is partnering with the U.K.’s Selfridges to open two pop-ups in early November. In Spain, FAO will open a holiday-pop up at El Corte Ingles in Madrid. And in a deal with Australia’s Myer Australia, FAO will open a pop-up in the chain’s two flagship stores, in Sydney and Melbourne.
In addition, FAO will open a 27,000-sq.-ft. flagship in Beijing, China, via Kidsland China, slated for March of 2019. Additional stores and pop-ups will open over the next few years.
“The expansion to these countries further exemplifies FAO Schwarz as a global kids lifestyle brand,” said David Conn, CEO of ThreeSixty Brands, owners of FAO Schwarz. “FAO Schwarz was built on in-store experiences, which has made it a global destination over the years. In partnering with these amazing companies around the world, we are able to bring back that wonderment of toys and a deep nostalgia for the larger than life experience that FAO Schwarz has offered to parents and children alike for over 150 years.”
FAO, whose roots date back. was acquired by Toys ‘R’ Us in 2009. It once operated about 40 stores nationwide, but eventually was down to only the New York flagship. In 2016, Toys “R” Us sold the brand to ThreeSixty Group, which designs, makes and distributes toys and other consumer products to retailers nationwide.
BuzzFeed to open a toy store—with a twist
Online news and quiz site BuzzFeed is going to try its hand at physical retail.
The company will open a toy store called “Camp” in Manhattan’s Flatiron District later this fall, reported the New York Post. The 11,000-sq.-ft. store will sell toys in the front, while the back will be set up as a related “experiential” area designed for social media photo sharing.
In a twist, Camp will change its theme and overhaul its merchandise several times a year, which is similar to a strategy pioneered by another Manhattan store, Story, which reinvents itself every couple of months. Rachel Schectman, founder of Story, is serving as an advisor on the BuzzFeed retail project, according to the Post. (Story was acquired by Macy’s In May.)
First Look: Canada’s Indigo Books and Music makes U.S debut
The largest bookstore chain in Canada has opened its first-ever U.S. store.
Indigo Books and Music has made its long-awaited U.S. debut with a 30,000-sq.-ft. store at The Mall at Short Hills, Short Hills, N.J. The space is designed around Indigo’s “cultural department store” for booklovers concept which combines typical book store categories such as books, magazines and stationery with such non-traditional ones as toys, home décor, wellness and other lifestyle products. It will also offer in-store events for kids and adults. (An in-store café is due is still under construction.)
The Short Hills outpost is warm, spacious and inviting, with an open floorplan designed as a series of zones, each with its own focal point. (Burdifilek, Toronto, developed the design approach for the store.) Books are the main attraction, but they are often complemented with products that tell a story around a book category. The Wellness Shop, for example, displays books on meditation, mindfulness, self-help and other related topics along with scent diffusers and candles.
Other zones include Home, Art and Photography, Paper Shop, Indigo Baby, and Indigo Kids, which is set off from the rest of the space with a color-splashed entry portal, colorful flooring and whimsical wall graphics. A large gift selection, Every Gift Tells a Story, is displayed on a wall opposite the checkout counter.