Five years ago, Robyn and Peter Rockwood were watching the ABC series “Shark Tank,” which features entrepreneurs pitching their businesses to investors, when they saw a pitch by two women for a concept called the COOP.
“We saw it and didn't even discuss it at the time,” Robyn said. “Evidently my husband made a note of it.”
Fast forward five years and the Rockwoods are the proud owners of a Coop franchise, a play and party space for kids and adults, which opened about six months ago.
The COOP South Bay run by the Rockwoods is located at 903 N. Catalina Ave near the Redondo Beach post office. The immaculate space features play equipment for kids, a bounce house and other toys. Customers can use the space during free play ($12 per child for two hours) or they can rent the entire space for a party starting at $695.
“The concept is really awesome,” said Linda Braden with Cornerstone Construction, which created the interior. “It's not what you would call your typical children's play space. It appeals to the adult as well. It's very contemporary and I think that really speaks to parents of today.”
For special event parties the team at the COOP creates various themes, from a red carpet event, to princess parties and even a unicorn party where kids can ride a pony that looks like a unicorn.
“We get the main concept from the franchise and are free to embellish,” Rockwood said. “We try to take it up a little bit and make it a little more sophisticated.”
The defining concept behind COOP is to create a play and party space for children that also appeals to adults. Parents can use their laptops in the coffee-shop like atmosphere or sit on the outside patio and watch television if they choose while kids play inside.
When creators Juliet Boydstun and Lucinda Gould appeared on Shark Tank in 2012, they said they were tired of the same children's play spaces like Chuckee Cheese and wanted something that parents could also enjoy. So it's that same concept that extends to their franchises. The COOP South Bay is the third franchise in the country, Rockwood said.
“We figure the kids are going to have fun, so we try to make it comfortable for the adults to come and not feel like they are stuck at a kids party for two hours,” she said.
Rockwood and her husband were living in Virginia when they saw the episode featuring the COOP and, at the time, did not think much of it. After their kids moved out of the house, the couple decided to move to California. Peter found a job in the hotel industry, but Robyn, a speech pathologist, was still looking for work when they recalled the Shark Tank episode.
“I've worked with all ages, infants and handicapped kids and I've raised two kids,” Robyn said. “It seemed like my husband, with his experience in hospitality, it just came together.”
Going to work among children certainly makes it an enjoyable job for a second career, she said.
“It's really fun to see the kids and just enjoy them without having to discipline or teach them anything.”
In addition to kids parties and play time, the COOP can provide its own catering and also offers mini photo shots with photographer Anita Lobsenz.