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Big Apple Unpeeled 8th October - 8th November 2010

Tuesday 23 November 2010

FAO Schwarz brings out the big kid in me

I had promised myself a visit to the iconic New York toy store, FAO Schwarz.

It was a chilly day, and I wrapped up against the cold and walked from my apartment on W 49th Street (between 9th & 10th) to 5th Avenue & 58th Street to the flagship store, which, by the way, is the only bricks and mortar store with the other FAO Schwarz outlets being housed in existing department stores.

As I approached the store I was surprised at how modern it looked with floor to ceiling windows. I guess I was expecting an older more traditional looking store, with lots of fancy brickwork and wood paneling inside.

FAO has quite a history. It was found in Balitmore in 1862 by German immigrant Frederick August Otto Schwarz, and he opened the New York store around 1870. Back then it was called Schwarz Toy Bazaar. FAO has had a few moves over the years around the city before it settled in it's current location. It originally dealt in unique European toys, but it is certainly more main stream in it's toy selection now.

I received a very friendly greeting from Carlos, who is a FAO toy soldier/greeter/doorman - you'll meet him in the video!

So enthused by Carlos' enthusiasm I went exploring with my flip camera. There was certainly enough going on in there to please every child big or small! All the staff were really friendly and I was soon getting hands-on with the toys and games! My friend Karmadillo set me the challenge of 'playing' the Big Piano and having a light saber fight with someone. Oh I do like a little challenge!

After swooping around most of the store and playing with toys, I set forth to find the Big Piano. In the end I had to ask someone where it was & I found it on the second floor. In the Big Piano's heyday I imagine it was in a more prominent position at the front of the store.

I didn't feel silly at all taking my shoes off and trampling the colourful keys and being the only grown up there who wasn't with a child and standing on the side lines watching! I found a Dad nearby who kindly became a photographer and videographer.

Hey! Get outta my way kid! (Whoops, my new New York attitude slipped out there!)

That's better!

I can tell you this, Tom Hanks was lucky to get that piano to himself! ;)

Sadly I couldn't find any light sabers. I guess they are just not in the toy fashion at the moment.

These little fellas were my favourite thing in FAO. I really wish I had brought one home with me, but I was aware that my suitcases were filled up to the max going over to NY and was afraid I wouldn't be able to squeeze one in for my return journey :(

So, say hello to Carlos and step inside FAO Schwarz!

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