Welcome to Our World of Drastic Markdowns

Barbie’s Boston dream house closes doors

FAO Schwarz, the Toys ’R Us of Fifth Avenue, has been delighting bright-eyed children and memorabilia-mad collectors with its pricey playthings and nutty name for nearly 140 years. Recently, the company announced that its Mecca of New England, the FAO Schwarz at 440 Boylston St. in downtown Boston, would be closing its tiny-handprint-streaked doors for good. After spotting numerous bargain hunters stumbling through the streets of Boston with hefty FAO bags overflowing with their plunder, FM donned its riot gear to investigate the chaotic consumerism at this childhood playground. The store hummed with activity—desperate customers cleared the shelves of goods as if preparing for a hurricane or a nuclear war that would leave them trapped in basements with only bottled water and board games for sustenance. Kids wandered, with open mouths and eyes a-twinklin’, throughout the remains, parents in tow. Aunts and grandfathers once regarded as tight-fisted now opened their hearts and their wallets in an attempt to win the love of little Johnny or little Jane. But what was left to purchase, with a 30-50 percent off sale well under way? The Sanrio stash had been raided by the Hello Kitty contingent, and the Blues Clues bandits had left the cupboard bare. In addition to Madeline’s entire wardrobe, glitzy Barbies, and assorted Harry Potter ogres, there was still a healthy supply of singing Kiss dolls, Star Wars’ Amidala action figures, The Simpsons’ Bleeding Gums Murphy figurines, and Mary-Kate-and-Ashley videos to satisfy the masses. And who knows what loot (or lil’ looter) was left beneath the mounds of boxes piled in corners here and there? Even in the autumn of its years, FAO Schwarz had managed to provide, as its website boasts, a unique shopping experience in “an unforgettable environment.” Yes, long after the last toy has been sold, that unforgettable, sugary anthem will still haunt us all: “Welcome to our world, welcome to our world, welcome to our world of toys!” RIP, FAO.

–K.E. Kitchen