FAO Schwarz to open 10 pop-up shops for the holidays

COSTA MESA — Storied toy retailer FAO Schwarz, which struggled for years to compete with larger toy giants before being bought last year by Toys R Us, is making a comeback of sorts this holiday season.

And, like a jack in the box of sorts, one of its stores is expected to "pop up" in Costa Mesa.

The brand will open about 10 pop-up toy shops across the country, including one at South Coast Plaza. The temporary shops, which are scheduled to close in mid-January, will be in addition to the brand's permanent location in New York City, its sole remaining retail store.

In an interview with The Times, Toys R Us Chief Executive Jerry Storch said the company was excited to bring FAO Schwarz's "high-quality heirloom toys" to new markets.

"We know that FAO Schwarz is one of the most well-known names in retail — not just in toy retail — so we believe there is an audience outside of Manhattan," he said.

Storch added that more stores could be added in the coming months and didn't rule out a location in Los Angeles. Depending on performance and site availability, some stores could remain open permanently, he said.

The pop-up stores are to each be about 2,500 square feet and offer a selection of classic FAO Schwarz products, including wooden and tin toys and the Big Piano dance mat, a smaller replica of the in-store piano made famous in the Tom Hanks film "Big."

Last week, Toys R Us announced it would operate about 600 Toys R Us pop-up stores nationwide, an aggressive expansion of the temporary-store initiative it began for the holidays last year. Pop-up shops have grown in popularity in recent years, thanks to a glut of vacant commercial real estate space.

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