Draft:Federation Trading Post

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The Federation Trading Post was a store in the 1970s that sold toys and memorabilia from the television show, Star Trek . It was the first retail store solely devoted to a television series, opening first in Berkeley, California in 1975, and then in New York City the following year.

The “Red Hour” Festival

The Red Hour Festival was the first Star Trek convention held in Northern California. It was a twelve-hour celebration of the original series, held at Lincoln High School in San Francisco on February 22, 1975. The event was organized by Chuck Weiss and Sandy Sarris, and served as a fund razing effort for the local fan club, Star Trek Archives. It was a success, with articles in the San Francisco press. The success of Red Hour was the inspiration Chuck and Sandy needed to open the Federation Trading Post.

Federation Trading Post – West

 The Federation Trading Post opened on May 11, 1975 at 2556 Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley California. “West” was added to the name when a branch of the store opened in New York City in 1976. It sold toys and memorabilia from the original Star Trek television series, including Federation uniforms for both men and women, realistic looking hand phasers, Vulcan ear-tip appliances (made by Doug Jones, a Hollywood make-up artist), fanzines and, of course, Tribbles.

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KPIX-TV News Video

Mail Order Catalog

Almost all of the items sold at the Federation Trading Post were featured in a mail order catalog that shipped to all fifty states, and seven foreign countries.

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People Magazine Article

Shortly after the store opened, People Magazine published an article on the store and its owners, Chuck and Sandy, featuring a picture of Mr. Weiss in uniform and full Vulcan make-up. [2] It appeared in the January 12, 1976 issue, the first after People went national. (They were originally a west coast publication only.) (Insert photo of magazine cover)

Federation Trading Post – East

In October of 1976, The Federation Trading Post – East opened in Manhattan at 210 East 53rd Street. The store duplicated the one in Berkeley, with the addition of a Star Trek Museum, featuring realistic looking fan produced reproductions of Star Trek models and props.

Ron Barlow was initially the manager. Doug Drexler took over that position when Ron left the company. Doug moved to California and began a career in Hollywood behind the camera, winning an Oscar for his creative make-up designs for the movie Dick Tracy, and two Emmys for his visual effects for the TV series Galactica.

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Sued by Paramount Studios

After the Federation Trading Post opened in New York City, the store was sued by Gulf and Western, parent company of Paramount Studios at the time, alleging infringement of their common law trade mark, “Star Trek.” Chuck and Sandy were able to acquire representation by the prestigious San Francisco law firm of Philips, Moore, Weissenberger, Lempio & Majestic. Eventually the suit was settled out of court without admission of wrongdoing by the defendants, and the store was given a sales and manufacturing license, which allowed it to continue conducting business as before.

Expanding After Star Wars

Before Star Wars premiered in 1977, public appreciation of science fiction was largely limited to fan clubs. But the immediate and unprecedented success of the film suddenly made science fiction big business. Whereas before, toys and memorabilia from science fiction movies and TV shows were hard to find, after Star Wars the Trading Post was suddenly competing with larger, nationwide retail outlets. To keep up, the store’s inventory expanded to include not only Star Wars merchandise, but also futuristic items such as 3D holographic pendants. An enlarged “21st Century” edition of the mail order catalog was created to include the store’s new offerings.

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Guest Appearances

 Most of the original cast signed autographs at the Federation Trading Post. William Shatner (Capt. James Kirk) promoted his album “Transformed Man” at the Berkeley store, signing his name to every copy sold that day. James Doohan (Chief Engineer, Montgomery Scott), George Taki (Helmsman, Hikaru Sulu), Grace Lee Whitney (Yeoman, Janice Randy), Bruce Hyde (Transporter Technician, Kevin Riley), and guest star Arlene Martel (Spock's fiancée, T’Pring), along with Franz Joseph Schnaubelt (creator of the Enterprise Blueprints and author of the "Starfleet Technical Manual" also made appearances in Berkeley. Even David Prowse (Darth Vader of Star Wars) appeared at the Federation Trading Post, proving that Star Wars and Star Trek fans could actually co-exist.

At the New York store, Nichelle Nichols (Communications Officer, Uhura) signed her name for fans, and Leonard Nimoy dropped by in costume when he was touring with the Royal Shakespeare Company's production of "Sherlock Homes" in the title role.

(insert photos of Shatner in Berkeley and Nimoy as Sherlock Homes at New York store)

References[edit]

San Francisco Chronicle with article by Herb Caen (February 25, 1975)

People Magazine Article (January 12, 1976) “Chuck & Sandy Keep the Enterprise Sailing” 

Facebook Page: Federation Trading Post Reunion