Hoping to build upon its already booming infant merchandise business, specialty toy retailer FAO Schwarz is planning to open its first FAO Baby store.
The new location, which FAO is converting from an existing store in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, will open its doors to the public this May, offering a wide variety of products (including toys, apparel, accessories, furniture and room décor items) from the retailer’s private-label FAO Baby brand, as well as topline infant brands such as Fisher-Price, Playskool and Lamaze.
More so than ever before, today’s parents recognize the importance of nurturing their children’s developmental skills and are embracing a lot of products that will help to stimulate their kids mentally, says Lauryce Graves, executive VP of merchandising at FAO Schwarz. According to Graves, sales of infant products at the retailer climbed 15% in 2000, making it one of the fastest-growing categories for the year. For now though, FAO is just testing the concept and has no immediate plans to roll out additional FAO Baby stores.
As part of that experiment, last month, the company introduced a new expanded FAO Baby department at its flagship Fifth Avenue store in New York. FAO moved the department from the second to the first floor, where it now borders on the Madison Avenue entrance, a location, says Graves, that’s designed to provide easier access for customer traffic coming in off the typically busy shopping street. FAO also expanded the section to 10,000 square feet and widened the aisles, making it easier for shoppers with baby carriages and strollers to maneuver once they’re physically inside the FAO Baby department.
‘Kids come with a lot of accoutrements these days, and parents often don’t have the luxury of shopping without them. Moving the department and expanding it was a way of making the section more shopper-friendly,’ says Graves.
Continuing in that vein, this spring, FAO plans to start running seminar breakfasts for new parents on the advantages of certain types of toys and products as they relate to the developmental needs of their children. The revamped FAO Baby section will also
feature a gift registry for consumers wishing to purchase products for newborns and