The End of an Era

nyc skyline flickr

This weekend, we saw the ending of an iconic American cultural marker; one that shaped the lives of the middle class by allowing them a peek into the lives of the rich, a realistic New York fantasy that embraced creativity and commerce simultaneously, led fashions, and left us with both nostalgia—that old wound—and fond memories of a well-placed musical number.

I am referring, of course, to the closing of FAO Schwarz.

As Buzzfeed reported, “Manhattan’s iconic FAO Schwarz toy store is leaving Fifth Avenue in July because the rent is too damn high.” How high does the rent have to be for a toy store that was featured in multiple movies, is a stop on NYC tourist bus rides, and sells custom-designed Muppets to get priced out?

According to CNN Money, “a spokeswoman would not say what it pays to rent the location at 765 Fifth Avenue.” CNN Money also clarified that most of the store’s employees would probably remain employed through Toys R Us, which acquired FAO Schwarz in 2009: “About 200 people currently work [at the Fifth Avenue location]. The company is working to transfer as many of them as it can to other Toys R Us and Babies R Us stores in New York and New Jersey.”

If you were hoping for a genuine FAO Schwarz toy of your very own, the store will continue to exist online, and there will still be opportunities for you to order your bespoke Muppet. If you’re sad that you can’t go to Fifth Avenue and dance on the enormous piano keyboard, you can order one of those, too.

And maybe, if all goes well, the store will re-open someday. To quote Bloomberg Business: “Toys “R” Us is considering moving FAO Schwarz into the below-ground space at 1633 Broadway, a 48-story skyscraper at Broadway and West 50th Street, just north of Times Square, Crain’s New York Business reported last week.”

Until then, we’ll have our memories.

bert cooper

No, wait, wrong memory:

big piano

There we go.

Photo credit: Sam valadi



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