Beloved Toy Store Returns to New York City


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  • Three years after closing its beloved toy store on Fifth Avenue, FAO Schwarz has returned to New York City.
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  • A new FAO store opened last Friday in world famous Rockefeller Center. It is about 10 streets from its former home near Central Park.
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  • For more than 150 years, FAO Schwarz was known in New York for its high-class and sometimes high-priced toys.
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  • The Fifth Avenue store opened in 1986.
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  • But financial problems at the parent company and rising rents forced that store to close in 2015.
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  • Now, FAO Schwarz is pulling back from the worst financial crisis since it was founded in 1862. In recent weeks, laborers worked 24 hours a day at 30 Rockefeller Plaza to get the new store ready.
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  • Workers filled the nearly 2,000 square meter space with hundreds of stuffed animals: bears, elephants and more. The new store has the large clock that once occupied the entrance to the old store. And the building's second floor has a large piano keyboard. It looks just like the one on which Tom Hanks danced in the 1988 movie "Big." By the way, copies of the more than 6-meter-long instrument sell for $128.
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  • There is also a toy food-market, where children can shop among plastic fruit.
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  • For $75, another interactive play station shows children to care for baby dolls, while a "nurse" explains how to hold them. A 9-meter tall rocket is filled with stuffed bear astronauts.
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  • "We are about experiences. That's what's different from other toy stores," said FAO's David Niggli.
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  • Other smaller, but temporary FAO stores are also opening for Christmas in England, Spain and Australia. A March opening is planned for a permanent store in Beijing. The company has announced plans for smaller stores in airports and other places across the U.S. and Canada.
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  • The business was started in 1862 by Frederick August Otto Schwarz, a German immigrant to the United States. He sold high-end toys, many imported from Europe.
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  • In the 20th century, the store became famous for selling pricey, high-end toys. The new store continues to sell such products, like a child-size, driveable Mercedes Benz. It sells for $25,000. But there are plenty of less costly toys, too.
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  • "I think that's part of what you come to FAO to see. It's part of the magic," said Niggli.
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  • I'm Susan Shand.
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  • The Associated Press reported this story. Susan Shand adapted it for VOA Learning English. The editor was George Grow.
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  • Words in This Story
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  • toy - n. a child's plaything
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  • rent - n. permission to use something or occupy a building in exchange for money
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  • stuffed - adj. filled with soft material or something else
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  • shop - v. to examine products in search of the best product for the price
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  • keyboard - n. a row or set of keys that are pushed to play a musical instrument (such as a piano) - sometimes used before another noun
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  • magic - n. tricks that seem to be impossible and that are done by a performer to entertain people
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  • doll - n. a plastic baby played with by children