Written by Rosa Stocks, One Step Retail Blogger
FLASHBACK— I am 19 years old attending Boston College. As a California girl, everything on the east coast is a new experience for me. So, when my college friend says, “Hey let’s go to New York for the weekend,” I’m in! When she suggests FAO Schwarz as one of the places we have to visit, my response is a little less enthusiastic. Remember, I’m from California. If anything, I am a Toys R’ Us kid. However, the name sounded familiar. I knew there was something special about it. And, once I saw the iconic New York storefront, I quickly remembered why.
This was the store! The store featured in so many of my favorite movies. The store that would appear in one’s mind when you dreamt of toys. It was FAO Schwarz! The little kid inside me immediately began to play taking in all of the colorful sights and enticing aromas. There were toys in every corner. Some in their boxes. Others in full display and accessible to play with. Kids running everywhere. Sounds coming from all around. Life-size toy soldiers and stuffed animals. It was truly a store of wonderment. I left the store with a kid-ish giddiness and a huggable mid-size Penelope the Pup Dog.
JUMP BACK TO THE PRESENT— The kid inside of me is rejoicing, again. The iconic toy store has returned to New York after closing its doors three years ago in hopes of filling the gap that Toy R’ Us has left after their own “closing doors” announcement this past summer. Now owned by ThreeSixty, a private equity-backed company, FAO Schwarz aims to replicate the nostalgic experiences described above, by 19-year-old me, while creating some new, more interactive experiences for their more modern shoppers.
“Experiences” that is what FAO Schwarz prided itself to offer its customers in the past and wish to continue to deliver to today’s generation.
“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.” — David Conn, CEO of ThreeSixty Brands
In keeping with their tradition of delivering larger-than-life experiences, the 20,000 square foot store will be featuring the iconic dance-on-piano (…you know the one in the movie “BIG”), a giant interactive clock tower, magic shows, a baby doll adoption center, a kid’s grocery shopping experience, a 27-foot tall rocket ship, a build-your-own RC race car station, kid spa station, candy installations and so much more. Before “experiential retailing” was the buzzword it is today, FAO Schwarz was the ultimate experiential retailer. ThreeSixty intends to capitalize on that tradition to make FAO the must-stop destination it was once for New Yorkers and tourists alike.
Now, all this may not be necessarily new to you as the news of FAO Schwarz’s return has been in every single news outlet. However, what you may not know is that FAO Schwarz’s commitment to deliver the ultimate in-store customer experience stems beyond their products and offerings. It extends to the technology chosen to run the behind-the-scenes operations. When FAO Schwarz re-opened its doors on November 16th, Teamwork Retail was the retail management system supporting FAO’s in-store operations. For how can an “experiential store” not deliver the interactive digital connectivity and customer engagement Teamwork Retail offers to shoppers.
Teamwork Retail is the modern retail management system FAO Schwarz needed to continue the “retail-tainment”- (Retail Dive) created within the store’s floors to checkout. Teamwork’s customer-facing, iPad display and mobile iPad POS allow for a much deeper interactive engagement with FAO shoppers. In the end, it all about the show and Teamwork Retail is the system to bring it all together.
FAO Schwarz plans to open a 27,000 square foot flagship in China on March 2019 as well as 30 smaller FAO Schwarz specialty stores and pop-ups in department stores across China. Also, in partnership with other retailers, FAO will open several pop-ups stores in airports and departments stores across the United States, Europe, and Australia.