MIDTOWN, Manhattan — Thousands of people visited FAO Schwarz Wednesday on its last day in business to take pictures and buy everything from candy and board games to plushies and gem stones.
The Fifth Avenue store first opened in 1862 and has since gained fame for their "toy soldiers" dressed in red that greet customers outside the store, its smiling clock, enormous plush dolls and floor piano made famous by the 1988 film "Big" starring Tom Hanks.
After 153 years, the iconic store will close its doors for the last time at 8 p.m. FAO Schwarz is looking for a new storefront to relocate to.
The Schroedel family came to FAO Schwarz on its closing day all the way from Hawaii. Natalie, 7, was looking to buy her year-old Muppet (custom-made at the same location) a new set of eyes, but she settled for a pair of sunglasses. Her sister, Anna, 15, just wanted to see the store one last time but ended up investing in the vast variety of sour candies.
Nina, 23, and her friend Anna, 20, are visiting New York from Brazil. They last visited the store four years ago, when they said the shelves were fully populated.
"We used to come here when we were younger," Nina said. "I'm going to miss this place. It was a part of our childhood."
Dwane and his friends Taylor and Jenn made the 3-hour trip from Elverson, Pennsylvania to see FAO Schwarz for the last time.
"This is our first time, and we got some photos on the Big piano and with the Lego sculptures," Dwane said.
The Big piano was made famous by Tom Hanks in his movie "Big," but Nick Jonas also recently performed his hit "Jealous" on the huge instrument.
John and his two daughters Whitley, 15, and Madisyn, 7, are also visiting the store for the first time though they're only minutes away in Jamaica, Queens He heard about the store closing on the news and wanted to check it out with his daughters. Though they came just to see the store, Whitley was keeping her eyes peeled for a big plushie. Madisyn was looking for a good book to read.
Olivia, 19, and Jack, 18, came to New York from Cleveland. They had just come to the store last year. Now, they're searching for a good deal on a stuffed animal. "Well, last year there was a lot more stuff on sale," Jack said. "It's a little more crowded now, too. And no one was taking pictures with the guards outside -- now, there's a huge line."