New York toy store FAO Schwarz to close 5th Avenue outlet in July

A doorman dressed as a toy soldier standing outside the FAO Schwarz flagship store on Fifth Avenue in New York, US. -- PHOTO: BLOOMBERG NEWS
A doorman dressed as a toy soldier standing outside the FAO Schwarz flagship store on Fifth Avenue in New York, US. -- PHOTO: BLOOMBERG NEWS

Legendary toy store FAO Schwarz will be closing its New York's Fifth Avenue outlet, a location it has occupied since 1986, on July 15 due to rising rent.

The closure means that it will be the first time the 153-year-old brand will be without a retail outlet.

A spokesman said that its owner, Toys R Us, is looking for another Manhattan location.

The company is also trying to find jobs for the store's 200 employees at its other shops in the region.

However, customers can still purchase the FAO Schwarz line of toys at Toys R Us stores and online.

According to Bloomberg, retail rents along Fifth Avenue from 49th to 60th Streets are the highest in the world. Rents can reach up to an average of US$3,500 (S$4,600) per square foot for space on the ground floor.

A person familiar with the situation said a new outlet could open in late 2016. The toy store is reportedly considering a below-ground space at 1633 Broadway, just north of Times Square.

"The company is committed to the FAO Schwarz brand and growing its legacy," Toys R Us said in an statement. "While we are sad to say goodbye to our current location, we are excited about the opportunity to create a new flagship location in New York City that will no doubt delight generations of children to come."

Founded by Frederick August Otto Schwarz in 1862, FAO Schwarz has moved several times since it opened. Rival toy company Toys R Us acquired it in 2009.

FAO Schwarz became a household name after a memorable scene in the 1988 movie Big when Tom Hanks played Chopsticks on its giant keyboard.