FAO Schwarz is expanding across the pond.
The legendary toy store opened a location at Selfridges in London yesterday, and it will open another at Arnotts in Dublin next Wednesday.
The news comes 11 months after the brand reestablished itself in Manhattan with a Rockefeller Center store; its famous flagship store on Fifth Avenue was shuttered in July 2015. And in May, FAO Schwarz set up shop in Beijing.
Both of the new European stores will include features that fans of the brand know well, like baby-doll adoptions, a dance-on piano, a clock tower, and the “FAO Schweetz” candy shop.
“The opening of these flagships and expansion in Europe further exemplifies FAO Schwarz as a global kids lifestyle brand,” Jan-Eric Kloth, COO of ThreeSixty Group, owners of FAO Schwarz, said in a statement. “FAO Schwarz has proven time and again that our in-store experiences are key to creating a memorable visit filled with wonderment and excitement for kids of all ages. We are so excited to bring this larger than life experience that FAO Schwarz has to offer for over 150 years, to Europe.”
The brand has experienced tremendous ups and downs in the years since Frederick August Otto Schwarz, who’d immigrated from Germany to the U.S., launched his toy business in 1862.
ThreeSixty bought FAO Schwarz in 2016 from Toys “R” Us, which had owned it since 2009. D.E. Shaw acquired parts of the then-parent company, FAO Inc., in 2004. FAO Inc. had filed for bankruptcy the previous year.
FAO Schwarz was once one of the most recognized toy sellers in the U.S., but by the start of the 21st century, its old-world charm—a lure for both youngsters and the young at heart—couldn’t seem to keep up with competitors, which sold toys for lower prices and online. While the storied Manhattan location remained a major tourist draw—and relied on what today is called experiential retail years before it became an industry buzzword—the overall demand for its high-end toys shrunk.