I am saddened to hear FAO Schwarz is closing their iconic Midtown Manhattan store. To quote another angry New Yorker, “The rent’s too damned high.”
FAO Schwarz (which through most of my life I made Jewish by pronouncing it Schwartz) was a must see for any New York City visitor. It’s where Tom Hanks did his piano dance in “Big.”
Here’s the weird thing. As a kid I used to hang out at FAO Schwarz many Saturdays. They welcomed me. I was good for business!
My trips to Schwarz started when I was around ten. My cousin and I used to go into the city by ourselves via bus and subway. We’d take the E train to 5th Avenue and 53rd Street, pop out of the Tishman Building (666 5th Avenue) and head north.
FAO Schwarz wasn’t for the common folk–like me. Its exotic, often imported, toys were high end and seldom discounted. The shoppers were grandparents and sometimes out-of-town parents, nearly always without their kids.
This is where I came in. Confused shoppers wanted my opinion. I was a representative kid.
At FAO Schwarz many of the toys were on display unpacked, out in-the-open and ready for play. And play I did. I spent hours there.
My cousin and I were polite, but it was obvious we were unsupervised. Yet no one at FAO ever questioned us or asked us to leave. We were providing a valuable service. Like I said, we were good for business.
FAO Schwarz was my aspirational toy store. I’m still mostly a kid. It will be missed.