Open to the public since 28 October 2021, FAO Schwarz’s first permanent location in continental Europe was officially inaugurated in Milan, Italy. The town’s deputy mayor, Anna Scavuzzo, and top managers of Artsana, Prénatal Retail Group and Three Sixty Group attended the ceremony on the eve of the opening.
The store’s opening is the result of an exclusive agreement between Prénatal Retail Group, a leading player in the nursery products and toy industries with 777 sales points in eight countries (Italy, Spain, Portugal, France, Greece, the Netherlands, Belgium and Switzerland), and California’s Three Sixty Group, owner of the FAO Schwarz brand.
A journey of discovery
Ground floor: On the ground floor, guests to FAO Milan are welcomed by classic plush creations, educational toys, the iconic FAO Clock Tower – which shows entertaining multimedia effects every 15 minutes – and sparkling balloons floating skyward.
First floor: Product demos and customisation are the main attractions on the first floor. For example, Majorette’s Build Your Car Factory with a 6-step miniature car configurator, or personalised Bunnies by the Bay Gifts. There is also a Sharper Image area with remote controlled cars, animals and drones, a Gravitrax megatrack by Ravensburger and Discovery #Mindblown science games.
Basement: Downstairs, visitors will find another FAO Schwarz icon, the extra-large Dance-On Piano, inviting them to step on its big black and white keys. Among other features on this floor, the entertainment of live and close-up tricks from Marvin’s Magic, a completely redesigned doll adoption experience, the Sylvanian Family area with an interactive display where visitors can take a picture with the brand’s characters and send it via e-mail, and the Barbie’s Styled by You concept which offers the chance to choose clothes and accessories for a highly fashionable doll wardrobe.
Platform 9 ¾: Customers can also enjoy a new customer experience launching in Italy as a worldwide first, Harry Potter’s legendary Platform 9 ¾ complete with the Hogwarts train. What’s more, customers can explore science with Discovery Toys’ Mad Scientist.
More brands offering instore fun include LEGO, Wood ‘n Play, Paw Patrol, Disney and Marvel, Funko; Italian-designed brands such as Bontempi, Chicco, Clementoni and Geomag are part of the magic too.
A natural choice
“The choice of Milan was a natural one, since Three Sixty Group’s agreement is with an Italian company, Prénatal Retail Group, and Milan is the fastest growing Italian town at the moment”, as Fabio Brugnoli, FAO Schwarz Project Director at Prénatal, told on the inauguration day. “This opening is not only for the citizens of Milan but also for all those who will come to visit the town. Our aim is to offer a space of wonder, imagination and discovery: there are 2,000 toys, 60 per cent of which have never been seen in Italy before. There are 25 theme areas, and 15 of them are experiential. Therefore, it is possible to play, watch product demos, and customise toys. FAO Schwarz intends to create unforgettable memories for the families and individuals who visit their stores through empathy with the customers and their interaction with the shop. The next step will be the launch of an Italian FAO Schwarz e-commerce site, and then we will plan openings in the countries where Prénatal is present, based on the Milan store’s experience”.
Giochi Preziosi’s flagship store
A few steps away and a few days before, 22 October 2021 saw the opening of Giochi Preziosi’s first flagship store. It includes several design elements referring to Milan’s symbols, like the underground lines, the town’s typical tramcars (a few of them were used to advertise the shop across town), the Scala theatre, San Siro soccer stadium. The shop windows even overlook the Cathedral square. There are spaces to be explored and interactive attractions, so the kids get to have a unique experience, while the adults accompanying them enjoy the nostalgic charm of the toys of the past that they grew up with.
The new store occupies a total area of 600 square metres on two floors and features the Italian company’s leading brands such as Gormiti, Cicciobello, Trudi and Sevi, and those obtained through the acquisition of Famosa, including Nenuco, Pinypon and Feber, besides many licensed lines.
In the space of a week, toys and games have made an impressive comeback in the heart of Milan, between the Cathedral and the Sforza Castle, after missing for several years.