Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Downtown Needs Zhu Zhu Pets Too

The must-have toys this holiday season are Zhu Zhu Pets, a line of adorable robotic hamsters. Zhu Zhu Pets are the brainchildren of Cepia LLC, a Clayton-based firm with 15 employees.

Cepia is led by Russell Hornsby, one of the founders of Trendmasters, a toy company that was based downtown at 1015 Washington Avenue, way before Washington Avenue was cool. Thanks to strong sales of its Rumble Robots and Powerpuff Girls toy lines (among others), the firm grew to 250 employees and was generating $150 million in sales. Unfortunately, Trendmasters went out of business in 2002 after a devastating holiday season that year.

Sounds like the minds behind Cepia have a great track record of developing popular toys. If the firm can keep growing, it’s going to need new office space. And of course, the best office space and overall working environment for creative professionals like those at Cepia is found downtown.

Downtown, and Washington Avenue in particular, has improved by leaps and bounds since Trendmasters closed in 2002. Perhaps Cepia’s leadership would be willing to give downtown a second chance? I can think of several spaces that would absolutely perfect for a firm like Cepia.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

Trendmasters was actually located at 611 N. 10th Street. The Washington Ave. address you reference was our shipping department. Also, Cepia is located in Ladue, not Clayton.

Brian said...

^
You might want to tell that to the Business Journal, Post-Dispatch and other media outlets who are referring to it as being based in Clayton.

samizdat said...

My wife used to work at Trendbastards during the "end times", and one of the reasons they went under may have been the "devastating" holiday season, but there were other, shall we say--*sniff**sniff*--reasons they went belly up. Not to mention a somewhat, ahem, aggressive management style. Management was losing it, and the rest of the company was suffering. Besides, Trendbastards, more often than not, licensed products from other sources, rather than design its own products. They made some really bad choices, in both original design, and licensed products. The Godzilla series of toys, fer instance. Of course, they can't be faulted for choosing to license what was, unfortunately, a dog of a movie. I really liked the space they leased in that building, though. Very much "old warehouse workspace". Almost sterotypically so. 'Twas the nineties, after all.

Anonymous said...

How about telling out of town media outlets that it is based in St. Louis and acting like a region instead of worrying about what fiefdom can claim it?

Manspace said...

Hmmm, Such animosity. Look no further than the N.C. Research Triangle Institute (Dole pineapple heir) and the Research Triangle see what can become of a regional magnet. St. Louis has the hub just fill in the spokes. All roads lead to Rome at one time.
Tnx. G

Brian said...

You'll be happy to know that the NPR story on Cepia last night referred to it as St. Louis-based.

Matt Kastner said...

I'm about as big of a "small government" guy as you will meet, but these are the exact kinds of things I would love to see the City working on. With the tight budgets of today simple legwork needs to be taking the place of the corporate handouts of years past. Is there any specific City department that handles such things? And I don't mean in theory, I mean in reality.