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FAO Schwarz Makes Paris Debut With Immersive Experiences

The 7,000-square-foot store includes six new and pre-existing toy experiences, including a Barbie doll styling station from Mattel and a “Build your Car by Majorette” station.

FAO Schwarz, a well-known New York-based toy retailer and brand, has made its way to Paris with its first storefront within Galeries Lafayette Paris Haussmann, the iconic mall-like department store. 

Located on the fifth floor, the new FAO Schwarz spans 7,000 square feet and offers a slew of specialty toys as well as interactive and theatrical experiences, including FAO’s “Toy Soldiers” (i.e., greeters/doorman dressed in emblematic costumes) and interactive magic trick demos by Marvin's Magic, according to a media release.

fao schwarz paris

The store carries 24 of FAO’s top toy brands, including plushies, FAO-Abulous fashion role play, educational and creative toys, as well as new-to-France brands such as Great Pretenders, Bunnies by the Bay, Discovery and Sharper Image. 

FAO Schwarz’s Growing Footprint

"Our mission at FAO Schwarz is to inspire awe and wonder around every corner of the store," said David Niggli, chief merchandising officer at FAO Schwarz. 

FAO’s Paris store opens three years after its debut in Milan in 2021. California-based ThreeSixty, owner of the FAO Schwarz brand since 2016, agreed to hand over exclusive management of the license for Europe to PRG Retail Group.

PRG Retail Group owns 528 stores across five countries (Italy, Spain, Portugal, Greece and France) and includes the Prenatal, Bimbostore and Toys Center kids brands. In addition to FAO Schwarz, PRG holds exclusive licenses for Toys R Us in the Iberian Peninsula, and has been a minority shareholder in the King Jouet Group since 2010, helping it to expand and consolidate in the French, Swiss and Belux markets.

Like the Milan store, the new FAO Schwarz in Paris also features the iconic flat grand piano that was made famous in New York and makes noise as it’s stepped on.

"Following the arrival of FAO Schwarz in the heart of Milan in 2021, marking the brand's entry into continental Europe, we have long sought another location that could fully embody the brand's DNA," Amedeo Giustini, executive vice president of PRG Retail Group, said in the release.

“Paris and Galeries Lafayette Haussmann perfectly represent the answer to the objective we have pursued together with ThreeSixty Group,” Giustini added. "A prime destination for luxury icons, it is the perfect setting to introduce the uniqueness of FAO Schwarz to the French and millions of tourists. … This is an important new milestone that will help strengthen our presence and strategy in the French territory, a large market that we have always presided over thanks to our participation in King Jouet."

New & Old Store Experiences in Paris

FAO Schwarz stores are designed to encourage “imagination, curiosity and wonder,” per the release. The Paris location offers six new and existing immersive experiences to visitors:

Barbie Styled by You: A new experience for Barbie doll lovers designed by Mattel and FAO Schwarz. It features two large Barbie styling stations, where guests can personally select a doll, its outfits, accessories, case and more.

My FAO Doll: Already in Milan, this renewed experience provides space for kids to take care of their own doll, choose their baby carrier, outfit and accessories, and receive a unique birth certificate. 

Build your Car by Majorette: Visitors can choose and personalize their own toy car to make it unique and special.

Build a Bear: Here, visitors don't just choose a plush bear off the shelf, they can participate in every stage of its production, from selecting the different types of bear to stuffing and choosing its clothes. Guests can also enter their bear's name in the register to obtain an official birth certificate.

Jelly Cat: This popular plush brand is known for its playful designs and whimsical characters, such as a cute avocado to a pizza plush. In July, a plush patisserie will open, allowing customers to buy various plush pastries and have them boxed like real ones to take home.

Bunnies by the Bay: Customers can choose a bunny (or teddy bear, goose, owl or elephant) from and personalize it and its accessories. Staff can embroider it with a first name or a message of choice.

FAO Schwarz Paris, ,hich opened on May 6, will offer all its top toy brands, including Corolle, Doudou et compagnie, Histoire d'Ours, Lego, Moulin Roty, Papo, Sentosphere, Sophie la Girafe, Steiff, Sylvanian Families and Vilac. In all, 24 top toy brands are represented.

Like the other eight stores worldwide, the location also features the brand's signature red and black colors and gold lettering. Guests can also see an emblematic clock tower and its six mini-clocks, each chiming at the same time as the other stores around the world: London, Dublin, Milan, Beijing, Seoul and New York.

The arrival of FAO Schwarz in France’s capital city reinforces the department store’s efforts to usher in “cultural development,” per the release, which noted Galeries Lafayette Paris Haussmann sees 37 million tourists a year.

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