Herberger’s and other Bon-Ton stores are turning nostalgic for the holidays. Bon-Ton just launched a collection of FAO Schwarz toys in 186 of its 260 department stores and online

The collection of 45 toys includes a piano mat inspired by the 1988 movie “Big,” cuddly plush golden retrievers, cheetahs, fawns and tigers, motorized train sets, British bomber drones, Mercedes and Roadster ride-on vehicles, retro bumper cars and a collectible leather-bound “The Night Before Christmas Story.”

"This cherished brand has been enjoyed by children and families for 155 years, and we are delighted to carry this unique toy collection in our stores," said Chad Stauffer, chief merchandising officer for Bon-Ton, in a statement. 

To celebrate the line’s introduction, a ribbon cutting will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday at each store. The first 25 kids in line will receive a gift and participate in the ribbon cutting and ceremony. There’s also an Instagram photo contest with a chance to win a grand prize of an 8-ft. plush giraffe.

“This is Bon-Ton’s way of bringing back nostalgia and a point of differentiation," said Dave Brennan, professor emeritus of marketing at the University of St. Thomas. "Since it's a pop-up store, it minimizes the risk involved and may attract additional customers who come for the toys and may buy other things while they're there.".

The line is higher-priced than similar items at Toys R Us, but Brennan doubts that will be an issue. "People shopping department stores expect something unique and of high quality," he said.

The collaboration came about because Bon-Ton and MerchSource, which owns FAO, have a long-standing relationship and have collaborated on other projects. "When [MerchSource] acquired the FAO brand, it seemed like a natural fit for Bon-Ton to add FAO Schwarz to our brand portfolio for our customers," said Kelly Seltzer, divisional merchandise manager for Bon-Ton stores. 

FAO Schwarz closed its last store, the New York City flagship, in 2015. In the Twin Cities, it had locations in the Conservatory, a shopping center on Nicollet Mall that closed in 1998 and a Mall of America store that closed in 2003. In 2008, Macy's did a similar holiday pop-up with the brand for the holidays.

To acquaint younger consumers with the FAO brand, the company is targeting millennial moms via display ads and Facebook ads, working with a moms blog, and sharing content on their social channels. Photos from the Instagram contest and those shared with the hashtags #returntowonder and #bontonstyle will be shown on a fan reel on the Herberger's website. 

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