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It's never too early to break out the tissues. Ahead of FAO Schwarz's July 15th departure from Fifth Avenue, the New York Times is chronicling the lament of customers past who took comfort in the fact that a piece of their youth was still accessible.
"My childhood was FAO Schwarz," Shira Underberger, a 25-year-old Manhattan resident who grew up in Connecticut, recalled. "It was to toy stores what Apple stores are to technology. It was its own world, it wasn't just a store. You had the talking tree when you walked in. You had the piano you could step on. You had all the stuffed animals, any animal you could think of...That, to me, was a kid's dream."
"Walking out of there with a $7.99 Barbie, I was out of my mind with happiness," remembered Melissa Quiñones, 32, who moved to the United States from Columbia when she was nine. "For my parents, as an immigrant family, not to have to spend a lot just to experience being in this massive toy store, it didn't matter the price point of the toy. That was the great thing about FAO. You could spend $8 or $1,500 and your child would walk out with the same feeling."
But, as Christopher Byrne of online toy review site TTPM reminded the paper, kids are walking into stores like FAO less and less these days. "Kids still love looking at toys, but they're doing it on their iPads and their phones and their different devices," he said. "The image of the saucer-eyed child looking at some object of desire is the same, but the child is looking at a tablet."
The store represented "a certain idea of classic New York that had to do with the Plaza Hotel and Eloise," Manhattan resident Lily Swistel added, a time that has largely passed by. Until FAO finds a new home—in New Jersey or Times Square, perhaps—those looking to pick up a memento from the store can shop the brand in Toys R Us stores, or, as the paper says, look for the "Everything Must Go" signs in the coming weeks to shop the discounts.