Come See The Variety!

Kitsch Niche:Westminster Inc.'s toys are retro fun

Kitsch Niche
Atlanta Magazine
Made in Atlanta

By Betsy Riley

Today's third graders may turn up their noses at any toy that doesn't contain a microchip, but fortunately for Atlanta-based Westminster Inc., their parents have no such scruples. Apparently whoopee cushions and potato guns are timeless. Cofounder Max Ker-Seymer calls his products "old-tech" rather than"low-tech". Mostly designed here and manufactured overseas, they range from puzzles and air hockey tables to remote-controlled flying spacemen. The biggest seller is eyeglasses made from a drinking straw. Westminster's first hit was the Tumble Buggy. Ker-Seymer sold 1.7 million of the battery-operated flipping cars in its first two years, mostly by demonstrating the car in malls. Now a wholesale distributor, the firm caters to independent drug stores, airport shops, and museums - including Richards Variety Store in Atlanta and the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Ker-Seymer was recently surprised to spot one of his flashlights in a gift shop in Amman, Jordan. His firm now has thirty-five local employees, plus an office in Hong Kong. There's no science to spotting a fun toy, says Ker-Seymer. "We are very fortunate in not having to answer to a focus group, as a lot og our items would be given the thumbs-down. Something like our Pull My Finger Pen would be the first to go!"

Read more about Richards Variety Store!