FREDERICK AUGUST OTTO SCHWARZ, FOUNDER OF LEGENDARY TOY RETAILER FAO SCHWARZ®, INDUCTED INTO TOY INDUSTRY HALL OF FAME
Country’s Oldest and Most Beloved Toy Store Celebrates 150th Anniversary in 2012
WAYNE, NJ (February 13, 2012)– FAO Schwarz® today announced that Frederick August Otto Schwarz, founder of the famed toy retailer, has been inducted into the Toy Industry Hall of Fame by the Toy Industry Association (TIA). The induction ceremony took place on Saturday, February 11, at the 12th Annual Toy of the Year (TOTY) Awards at Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center in New York City.
This distinguished honor for Mr. Schwarz comes as FAO Schwarz celebrates its 150th year as a purveyor of extraordinary toys and a brand synonymous with quality and innovation. Since 1862, the dream of Frederick August Otto Schwarz to provide an assortment of one-of-a-kind toys, while creating a theatrical experience to showcase merchandise, has delighted generations of children who have visited the legendary store.
At the induction ceremony, Jerry Storch, Chairman and CEO, Toys“R”Us, Inc., which exclusively operates the FAO Schwarz brand, said, “The vision of Frederick August Otto Schwarz to establish FAO Schwarz as a magical toy emporium resulted in a shopping experience that has captivated parents and children since its inception. As a pioneer in the toy industry, he transformed the way people shopped for and thought about toys, and we are proud to build upon the incredible heritage of his namesake brand.”
The ceremony was attended by members of the extended Schwarz family, including one great-grandchild, three great-great grandchildren and one great-great-great grandchild.
Eric Schwarz, great-great grandson of Frederick August Otto Schwarz, stated, “My great-great grandfather created a world of magic and wonder that has transcended generations of children and lives on today at the FAO Schwarz flagship store in New York City. Our entire family shares in this honor and we take great pride that the Toy Industry Association has recognized his life’s work of bringing joy to children.”
In 1856, Frederick, the youngest of three Schwarz brothers, emigrated to the U.S. from Germany, joining his brothers in Baltimore, Maryland. Six years later the brothers opened “Toy Bazaar,” their first toy retailing business. Following the success of “Toy Bazaar,” Frederick moved to New York City where he opened “Schwarz Brothers – Importers,” while his brothers operated separate toy stores in Baltimore and Boston. Driven by a love of toys and his vision to provide children with the most amazing products, Frederick stocked his store with exquisitely crafted playthings from Europe. Under Frederick’s leadership, the business grew rapidly and became the destination for unique, high-quality toys.
Frederick opened a second New York City location in 1876 to meet increased demand and also issued his inaugural catalog for loyal clientele, creating one of the first mail order businesses in the country. Over the next 30 years, the store moved to larger, more prominent locations throughout New York City several times. By 1900, Frederick had renamed the store “FAO Schwarz,” and many considered him to be the largest toy dealer in the world.
After captivating children and adults alike for 50 years, Frederick August Otto Schwarz passed away in 1911, but his legacy lives on in his beloved brand and in the indelible mark he made on the toy industry.
Today, FAO Schwarz is not only the oldest toy store in the United States, but one of the oldest retail establishments of any kind. It has evolved from a toy store to a must-see tourist destination, and continues to be well-known for high-quality merchandise and timeless treasures. Throughout its 150 years, FAO Schwarz has carried on the tradition of serving as a stage to introduce new and exciting products to consumers.
A pop culture icon for generations, Frederick’s namesake store draws thousands of visitors each year who come to witness the magic and wonder of FAO Schwarz. Through the ages, it has been the subject of classic depictions of kids and kids-at-heart, including a 1930’s cartoon in The New Yorker and starring roles in countless major motion pictures – perhaps none more renowned than “BIG” in 1988, in which actors Tom Hanks and Robert Loggia dance on the store’s giant piano.
The Toy Industry Hall of Fame was established in 1984 and has inducted 61 individuals, to date, who have significantly impacted and influenced the toy industry. Mr. Schwarz was nominated for this esteemed honor from within the toy industry and selected by a vote of Toy Industry Association members and previous Hall of Fame honorees. Inductees to the Hall of Fame must demonstrate significant experience in the toy industry, have led innovative product introductions and have a prominent role in encouraging the appreciation of toys in lives of children, among other qualifications.
About FAO Schwarz
Since 1862, FAO Schwarz has been a brand synonymous with quality and innovation, offering an unparalleled selection of one-of-a-kind toys that have enchanted generations and cultivated a loyal clientele. In 2012, the brand commemorates its 150th anniversary as one of the most cherished retailers in the country with a year-long celebration of its storied history. The famous FAO Schwarz flagship store in New York City, which attracts millions of visitors annually, is the only one of its kind in the world. The complete assortment of the company’s extraordinary merchandise, including a line of unique toys marketed under the FAO Schwarz brand name, can be found in-store and online at FAO.com. The iconic FAO Schwarz brand is exclusively operated by Toys“R”Us, Inc., the world’s leading dedicated toy and juvenile products retailer.
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