A 20-Something in a Toy Store

FAO Schwarz. A place where dreams come true. Second only to Disneyland. Immortalized by Tom Hanks in the movie “Big”. A New York cliché.

FAO Schwarz 5th Avenue

This childhood mecca is directly across the street from the building where I am temping all week. Ah temping, almost as cliché as waitressing. Every day I have a mandated hour-long lunch break that I don’t quite know what to do with; it never takes me an hour to eat lunch. The gorgeous weather of last week has cooled to typical early spring weather: chilly, windy, April showers. Not wanting to stay in the office but seeking refuge from the outdoors, I found myself wandering around the legendary toy store.

FAO Schwarz NYC

I thought perhaps “Visit FAO Schwarz” would be number four on my list of “Ways to Feel Like a Kid Again“. Turns out, this couldn’t be farther from the truth. It might, in fact, be number one on the list of “Ways to Feel Ancient at Age 25”. I wandered the aisles all but muttering to myself these choice clichés: Back in my day… Little hooligans! Kids these days! You want to cry? I’ll give you something to cry about!

I have yet to be bit by the baby bug (as I’ve mentioned before.) However, I am no longer adamantly anti-kids. Two of my favorite blogs, Fraught and NYC Taught Me (recent discovery, her photography is fantastic) actually make motherhood look pretty fun. I sometimes wonder how I’ll know I really want kids. This week I figured it out. When I go to FAO Schwarz and am not over come with the urge to smack every child in the store, that’s when I’ll be ready. Presently, that day seems miles away. I would never actually hit a child, but simply overhearing all the whining around me drove my patience. FAO Schwarz: my new birth-control.

But in the end, it’s still a toy store. It’s fun, even at my advanced age. I should’ve just worn earplugs (help me, I’m turning into my mother). FAO Schwarz is celebrating its 150 anniversary this year. It hasn’t been around that long for nothing. In celebration of the milestone, they have exhibits through-out the store displaying old toys from their history. You can buy toys and learn some history at the same time!

FAO Schwarz barbie
Who knew Barbie’s middle name was Millicent! Think she’s embarrassed?
FAO Schwarz mr. potato head
Mr. Potato Head has certainly evolved from his original prototype. They certainly took “Potato” literally for a while.
FAO Schwarz legos
LEGOs have come a long way too. They were never my favorite as a kid, but put me in front of LEGOs now and I am sure I would play with them.
FAO Schwarz teddy bear
Teddy’s haven’t changed much in 100 years. Bear cute-ness appears timeless.

Did you learn something? Were you quiet and well-behaved? No crying/whining? I’m so proud of you! Since you were so good, I’ll let you pick a toy!

FAO Schwarz trains

Would you like a train set? Classic and timeless. Oh, you think it’s old-fashioned and boring? You wish it was Thomas the Tank Engine? Remember, no whining or we’re leaving. Let’s look for something else.

FAO Schwarz patrick the pup

Oh look! How about  a puppy that’s almost the size of my apartment? You’re afraid it would crush you and you’d suffocate to death under it? Me too. Moving on…

FAO etch-a-sketch

Who doesn’t want a $1,500 jewel encrusted Etch-A-Sketch? Perfect! What? It’s the most frivolous thing you’ve ever seen? You’d rather have an iPad? My, my, aren’t we practical.

FAO Schwarz life size goat

Ooo, it’s a life-sized goat! Did you know I directed a play in college called “The Goat or Who is Sylvia”? Did you know one of the props I needed was life-like goat carcass and I actually considered buying the very goat you see here? Too bad $349 was approximately the budget for the entire show. What’s that? Its utters kind of freak you out? Tough customer!

FAO Schwarz muppets

Wow! Look over here! You can design your own muppet! Now that’s cool. You get to pick its color, eyes, hairstyle, outfit, everything! How neat, your very own, original muppet! What do you do with it? Well…uhh…you could do some sort of street performance with it. No? But you’re interested in other job options? Let’s see…

FAO Schwarz NYC

Here we go! You could be the doorman, constantly posing for photos!  I thought the men who wear those hats aren’t suppose to smile…

FAO Schwarz spider man

Or you could be Spiderman! How cool is he? No one can tell if he’s smiling behind the mask! Oh, you’re not a man? Me neither…hmm…we seem to like our gender roles here, but maybe we can find something…

FAO Schwarz baby dolls

Yes! You can work in the baby doll nursery! Wow, I bet this woman hates kids at the end of the day. Also, I bet one jewel-encrusted Etch-A-Sketch she’s a strugging actor, like me!

madison avenue

Uh oh. My lunch break is almost over! Awww, I have to go back to my temp job. Look, you can see the office out the window, as well as the reflection of the LEGO section!

FAO Schwarz piano

Before we go, you have to take a spin on the Big Piano. It completes the FAO experience. Did you have fun?

When was the last time you were in a toy store? Ever been to FAO Schwarz? If you’re a parent, how do you handle toy stores?

About New York Cliche

NYC lifestyle blog by Mary Lane. Events, adventures, epic mistakes, dating, life, humor. A 20-something trying to make it (and make out) in the city of dreams.

30 thoughts on “A 20-Something in a Toy Store

  1. While I’ve certainly passed FAO Schwarz about a million times, I’ve never actually been in the store… I think it’s the desire to avoid kids that keeps me away.

    1. Yeah, I’d been by it a million times too. It’s one of those touristy things locals never go to, especially those of us sans kids. It’s definitely an experience though!

  2. My husband and I took a trip to NYC in 2007. We stopped at FAO Schwarz. I guess we were there on a quiet day because there weren’t many children there. I actually think that’s the last “toy store” I was in.

    1. how did your trip compare with mine? It wasn’t that crowded when I was there either- don’t think I would have lasted 2 minutes on a weekend

  3. HAHA, I have also been overlooked by the baby-wanting fairy and this post cracked me the hell up. I can’t even go into Ikea without wanting to drop-kick all the annoying fucking children running around (WHY do people bring their kids there?! I don’t get it), much less FAO Schwarz. I can’t even imagine.

    1. I’ve never set foot in an Ikea. This gives me further reason to try to avoid it at all costs! haha “baby-wanting fairy” I have to start using that phrase!

  4. I went in there last summer with my friend and just walked around for an hour or so. I couldn’t believe some of the toys. Wouldn’t have minded that puppy though. I could have used it as a mattress for college- it looks far more comfortable than the “mattress” they supplied. It’s also probably bigger.

    1. haha the possibilities of puppy vs conventional furniture! “No I don’t have a futon, you can crash on my (crazy big FAO Shwarz) puppy.” The question is, would you get pink or brown?

  5. They used to have that store in Chicago for a while, but it’s not around anymore. The American Girl doll store is still pretty popular, though. Being in toy stores makes me feel old too, partly because I want to play (and buy) several of the toys but I’m too old for them now.

    1. I think the one in NYC is the only one left. There was one in SF that closed too. Don’t get me started on American Girl, I longed for everything in those catalogues. Now there’s a 70’s San Francisco one (sad that I know that?) I would have DIED over as a child.

  6. Your suggested test for childbearing-readiness is a great idea – get it to Planned Parenthood fast!

    And how about inviting a musical friend to play – dance? – a duet with you on the piano?

    1. That’s a great idea, though my piano skills are pathetic. If I find a friend and a time when the piano is not over run with children, I’ll have to give it a go. And hopefully record it- I wonder what is already on youtube…

  7. Wow I love your blog!! I think it’s going to be a daily read for me. Always wanted to live in New York and so glad your following your dreams and I a sure you will get that big break in a non-cliche way :). Love this toy store…I am so playing on the piano when I visit the city 🙂

    Laura x

    1. Oh thank you so much! I’m sure you had a lot to tend to on the internet, I’m flattered you took the time to stop by! I don’t exactly update daily, but I have been improving my frequency. You follow me on twitter (yay! thanks!) so you will definitely be posted when I do update! Cheers 🙂

  8. Why would anyone want a life-size goat? I would love my own Muppet though, it would be awesome!

    In the UK, in London, is Hamley’s which I think is probably the British version. It’s very well known and is really old too. I have been in there a few times and always love it!

    1. Hahaha I said the same thing! Who wants a goat? Well, I did, for my play. But who wants one as an actual toy? I also said the same thing about the Muppets- totally want one, but not sure what I’d do with it.

  9. Brilliant! I am so adding this to my list of places I want to visit! That’s the giant piano from the movie where the kid changes into an adult (pretty sure it’s the one with tom hanks in it with a trampoline in his apartment?)!!!! (yep, New York is just one movie/tv show after another for me!)

  10. I work there! It’s like CONSTANT birth control. You’re so right – I want to smack every single child in there most days (and some of the adults, too). You definitely learn a lot, though, about performing, working there. And there’s at least one cool kid a day – like the toddler who hands out M&Ms to people she likes, or the 12-year-old boy who drew Kilroy from the Styx album for me.

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  12. I love LEGO. I could never work in a LEGO store. a) Children whining & b) parents asking “Where is the LEGO for girls?” They mean the Friends sets. I want to yell at them ALL LEGO IS FOR GIRLS. Sorry. Rant escaped. Gaahh.

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