In-Store Events, Commemorative Products, Brand Archives and an Enhanced Website Honor the Rich Heritage of the Country’s Oldest and Most Beloved Toy Store
WAYNE, NJ (February 16, 2012) – For 150 years, the legendary FAO Schwarz® has enchanted generations of kids, created lifelong memories and drawn acclaim for its assortment of extraordinary toys. Established in 1862, the country’s oldest and most beloved toy store kicked off a year-long celebration this week for its 150th anniversary, beginning with a tribute to its founder Frederick August Otto Schwarz, the unveiling of in-store features and the introduction of a special 150th anniversary logo to mark this milestone. Throughout 2012, the company will honor its rich heritage with in-store events, commemorative product offerings, a showcase of brand archives and an enhanced website that together will present the brand’s storied history.
“For 15 decades, FAO Schwarz has created a magical, one-of-a-kind retail environment, bringing joy to millions of kids and kids-at-heart,” said Jerry Storch, Chairman and CEO, Toys“R”Us, Inc., which exclusively operates the FAO Schwarz brand. “As we celebrate its 150th anniversary in 2012, we are excited to evoke nostalgic memories by highlighting the brand’s past, while continuing to elevate the FAO Schwarz experience through redesigned store features and unique new product offerings.”
Frederick August Otto Schwarz Inducted into Toy Industry Hall of Fame – The year-long celebration began this week when company founder Frederick August Otto Schwarz was inducted into the Toy Industry Hall of Fame, recognizing his significant contributions to the toy industry. The induction ceremony took place on Saturday, February 11, at the 12th Annual Toy of the Year (TOTY) Awards, hosted by the Toy Industry Association (TIA), in New York City.
“Welcome to Our World”: A Familiar, Friendly Face Returns – Some visitors to the landmark store are likely to be nostalgic about the return of the famous face of the FAO Schwarz Clock Tower, originally displayed in the store from 1986 through 2004. It is newly positioned above the escalator leading down to the Concourse Level, where it once again plays the classic theme song, “Welcome to Our World of Toys,” which greeted guests for 18 years.
A New Look for the Store’s Toy Soldiers – The store’s renowned real-life “toy” soldiers, who have long greeted visitors at the flagship store, are dressed their best for the brand’s sesquicentennial in new bright red uniforms and whimsical bearskin hats. After receiving a warm welcome, visitors entering the magical toy emporium will experience 14-foot-tall illuminated toy soldiers with banners heralding the store’s milestone anniversary, which are positioned along the main aisle in the Grand Hall.
Bringing the Brand’s Storied History to Life Online – FAO Schwarz enthusiasts can visit FAO.com, which will be transformed into a one-stop shop for the year-long celebration with a red and gold color scheme. The site not only features classic, high-quality toys that the brand is known for, but also updated information about the brand’s history and the activities taking place at the store throughout 2012, including a new page devoted to the 150th anniversary. FAO.com will also highlight a dedicated feature shop of 150th anniversary products that have been created especially to mark the occasion.
In the social space, the company’s Facebook page, Facebook.com/FAO, will undergo a similar transformation, featuring images of the famed flagship location, as well as trivia and facts culled from 150 years of FAO Schwarz history and more.
FAO Schwarz Presents: “A Gallery of Historic Toys” – Beginning next week, FAO Schwarz invites visitors to step back in time, when it officially unveils a one-of-a-kind in-store gallery filled with classic toys and brand artifacts. More than 25 of the most iconic playthings that have brought joy to children worldwide for more than a century will be showcased, including an original Crayola® 64 Box, first edition G.I. JOE action figures and a vintage Barbie® doll. In addition to toys, unique items from the FAO Schwarz archives will be featured, such as an FAO Schwarz sales ledger from 1909 and a selection of FAO Schwarz catalogs dating back to 1928. Additional information on “A Gallery of Historic Toys” will be available soon on FAO.com.
150th Anniversary Commemorative Products – In conjunction with the company’s anniversary, limited edition items from Mattel®, Hasbro®, Playmobil®, Steiff®, Madame Alexander® and other manufacturers will pay homage to the famed toy retailer. Available later this year, items will include an FAO Schwarz-themed MONOPOLY board featuring classic playthings, as well as a toy soldier Barbie® doll and Playmobil® figures. In addition, FAO Schwarz will release its own exclusive plush bears to mark this anniversary.
Where It All Began
In 1856, Frederick August Otto Schwarz, the youngest of three Schwarz brothers, emigrated to the U.S. from Germany, 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 where he opened “Schwarz Brothers – Importers.” Driven by a love of toys and his vision to provide children with the most amazing products, Frederick stocked his store with exquisitely crafted playthings from Europe.
As his business flourished, Frederick moved to larger locations throughout the city and introduced his inaugural catalog for loyal clientele in 1876 – creating one of the first mail order businesses in the country. By 1900, Frederick had renamed the store “FAO Schwarz,” and many considered him to be the largest toy dealer in the world.
FAO Schwarz has hosted many notable events and product launches since its founding, from the introduction of the “perambulator” – the modern day baby carriage – at the turn of the 20th century to the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) in 1985 and Furby in 1998.
Since 1862, the dream of Frederick August Otto Schwarz to provide an assortment of one-of-a-kind toys, while creating a theatrical experience to showcase merchandise, has delighted generations of children who have visited the legendary store. Though Frederick passed away over a century ago, his legacy lives on in a beloved brand.
For information on the celebratory events taking place throughout the year, please visit the 150th anniversary page on FAO.com.