Is Toy Retail Dead In Manhattan? (No It’s Alive & Kicking!)



Once upon a time there were two major Toy retail landmarks in Manhattan – FAO Schwarz and the Toys R Us store on Broadway. In fact, one of my first memories of the toy industry is being shown round these two outlets by my first boss at Hasbro. And for me (and for many international visitors) a major part of our annual pilgrimage to New York for the Toy Industry Association’s American International Toy Fair each year in February was a trip to these showcase retail outlets. It’s not necessarily that these were the best merchandised two toy stores or that their often very crowded shopping experience was entirely pleasant…instead the point was it was an easy way to see what was on sale, what the major brands were focusing on and was a quick reference point to a broad cross section of the US toy industry.

While Walmart and Target may drive significantly higher volumes for numerous products and for many toy companies, their store format (and arguably their demographic) doesn’t appear to be best suited to Manhattan’s real estate/consumer base, and also their range of toys is not usually so broad as could be found in the TRU on Broadway, so as a reference point these two now absent specialist toy superstores will be sorely missed!

However, there is a reality outside of these two flagship locations – that there remains today dozens of retail outlets on Manhattan where you can purchase toys, and even have a ‘retail theatre’ experience. In and around this years New York toy fair we visited an absolutely splendid example of the Disney Store in Manhattan, which in this day and age features a vast array of top toy brands inc. Star Wars, Marvel, Disney, Frozen etc. We also perused a Lego store and an American Girl store each of which is clearly targeting both the c. 1.6million Manhattan residents and tourists alike. There are also numerous specialty toy retail outlets in Manhattan, as well as a number of generalist retailers who also sell at least some toys (drug chains, kiosks, department stores) etc.

So the reality is that while we may have lost a couple of high visibility toy stores toy retail in Manhattan is still alive & kicking, in fact appearances suggest it is thriving, just in different formats!

The following images reflect just a few of the outlets we viewed, and needless to say all logos, trademarks and intellectual property featured belong to the rightful owners.



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by Steve Reece, CEO of Kids Brand Insight,  a leading Consultancy to toy companies around the world, which helps companies with product reviews & awards, find the right toy & game factories, consumer research test their products with kids and parents and secure export distribution/market entry around the world.