In Park Slope, may the Schwarz be with you

The Brooklyn Paper
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Park Slope’s pampered tykes might soon have one more reason to love life in Brooklyn. FAO Schwarz — toy store and child magnet since 1862 — said this week it might open a satellite shop in the Slope.

CEO Edward Schmults told Crain’s New York Business that the company is considering opening two offshoots of its Fifth Avenue behemoth in places like Union Square and Park Slope.

The unexpected announcement sent shivers down the spine of the local toy shop sector.

“It would impact all of the smaller shops,” said Karin Schaefer, owner of Acorn: A Brooklyn Toy Shop, on Atlantic Avenue between Smith and Hoyt streets.

“What people like about Brooklyn is that they can shop at little boutique specialty stores where they know the owners.”

It’s also not clear that Park Slope’s famously progressive parents would welcome the big-time toy retailer.

Joseph Segilia, who frequently toy shops for his eight-year-old son, said he’d spurn an FAO Schwarz if it moved into the neighborhood.

“I’ll definitely continue to shop in the local toy stores,” said Segilia. “They add to the character and charm of the neighborho­od.”

But not everyone is bothered by the notion of a Park Slope FAO Schwarz.

“We’ve been there since 1977,” said Allen Brafman, who owns Little Things Toy Store on Seventh Avenue, between Garfield Place and Carroll Street. “I’ve seen other toy stores come and go, and we’ve never felt threatened. I don’t see why this would be any different.”

Toy store owners needn’t start shaking in their boots just yet.

FAO Schwarz’s spokeswoman told The Brooklyn Papers that her boss’s comments shouldn’t be taken too seriously.

“The Brooklyn location was a concept that was brought up in an interview with Crain’s,” said Nanette DiFalco. “The possibility of opening more stores is still in the planning stage, and no areas have been confirmed.”

Updated 4:00 pm, November 10, 2010
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