FAO Schwarz, the famous toy store from the movie Big as well as real life, will be closing its Midtown flagship in July, priced out of the neighborhood despite offering a luxurious shopping experience. So luxurious, in fact, that there oncer were princesses on staff. Hopes & Fears has an interview with Heather Sparx, an actress who played many roles including the “last princess” of FAO Schwarz, about her memories of the “world of toys.”
Sparx describes the role of the princess as something sort of like being Cinderella at Disneyworld; that is, the girl who every other girl wants to be. “This one girl hated me when I took over the title,” she says. Sparx was the last princess because the character was “killed off,” she says, due to the dress deteriorating.
She also played a nurse in the baby doll department, which was designed to feel like a hospital nursery. As a nurse, her role was to ask kids if they were ready to adopt the baby. She’d ask questions like “do you promise to love your baby forever?” Then she’d give it a name and birth date. Sometimes, she says, kids would come in because they were adopted themselves, and it was all so sweet it made her cry (me too, Heather. Me too. It’s been a weird day).
It wasn’t all sweet, though: She had to deal with pervy dads every single day who would touch and whisper stuff like “how much for you?” It sounds like the loss of FAO Schwarz will be a huge blow for men with nurse fetishes, or at least gross guys who like to say inappropriate stuff to young women whose job forbids them from talking back (although they’ll still unfortunately have plenty of options for that).
Anyway, pour one out for FAO Schwarz. Watching Big will never be the same.
(Photo: Heather Sparx via Hopes & Fears)