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Friday, March 27, 2015

Childhood Memories: Zany Brainy

Any true 90's child can vouch for Zany Brainy when it is brought up in conversation, growing up in the Chicago Suburbs right before the millennium, I had a chance to visit these stores frequently before they closed in 2001. Zany Brainy was a chain of children's toy stores that was owned by FAO Schwarz. Zany Brainy sold educational toys and merchandise aimed for children ages 4-12 and each store held daily events and concerts for local area artists and programs. 

Glendale, NY

The chain of stores was started in 1991 by David Schlessinger, who had also started the long gone chain of book stores, Encore Books, years before. The only CEO Zany Brainy had was Thomas Vellios. A rival company, Noodle Kidoodle, was acquired by them in 2000, and later, the chain filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy May 15, 2001, as they faced financial difficulties since the buying Noodle Kidoodle.

At the time, the chain had 187 stores nationwide.

By the end of 2001, the Zany Brainy chain was no more, all there assets had sold off and all the stores closed.

Old Noodle Kidoodle Stock document

Zany Brainy website?

As Zany Brainy didn't work out too well, only lasting 10 years, at time CEO, Thomas Vellios and founder David Schlessinger, found the Five Below discount chain in October of 2002, with the first store opening in Wayne, Pennsylvania. 

The bright colors, big shapes, and playful atmosphere was missed by many kids as the doors of the chain closed at the end of 2001. I miss the stores, its been 14 years, but I spent many times with family at the stores and have some great things so remember them by.

Please feel free to leave comments and questions, as  well as stories below

Thank you for reading. 


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