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FAO Schwarz Stages a Big Apple Return

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Sometimes things disappear and it’s not until they’ve gone that you realise perhaps what you had and what you are now missing. Even more infrequently, they return, in spite of predictions that they were gone forever. The latter is the case with the reappearance in Manhattan on Friday of FAO Schwarz, the iconic toy retailer made famous by the piano scene in the 1988 fantasy comedy Big.

Prior to closing in mid-2015, the store was just off New York’s Fifth Avenue and close to Central Park. Now it is on Rockefeller Plaza and much of what went before, from the eponymous piano to a clocktower that you can enter and climb through, has been more or less reinstated.

As much as anything, this store is about experience and to a large extent with its mix of demonstrations and installations it leaves London’s Hamleys, its transatlantic equivalent, a little behind. New elements include a number of in-store stations where shoppers can customise a remote-controlled racing car and a ‘baby doll adoption center’. Novelty is not dead.