Sanrio Trucks Its Kawaii to Tustin

Everyone’s favorite mouthless white cat isn’t done celebrating Sanrio’s 50th anniversary quite yet—and she’s bringing the party to Orange County.

Tokyo resident Shintaro Tsuji founded Sanrio in August 1960, and his company has become the model of all things kawaii, which translates to “cute”—you know, small creatures with big heads and big eyes, smiling cheeseburgers and French fries with googly eyes, leggy anime babes, etc. The corporation currently boasts 12,000 stores (with 85-plus Sanrio boutiques in the Western Hemisphere alone) hawking the cutesy goods and has licensed characters to such major companies as Target and Nakajima USA, helping to position Sanrio’s legacy in America next to Mickey Mouse himself.

To commemorate its 50 years of being fucking awesome, Sanrio has kicked off its “Small Gift Mobile Pop-Up Shop Tour,” which started in San Francisco last week and will finish in New York City this December. The company packed up loads of exclusive, limited-edition goodies and surprises in a truck plastered (naturally) with the faces of your favorite characters and hit the road—with Tustin in its sights for Nov. 7.

But don’t think it’ll be selling the same stuff you can pick up at your local Target or Sanrio boutique: This swag is extra-special. Although many old-school Sanrio characters have been retired for some time now, they’re back for the 50th anniversary. Tuxedo Sam (a penguin dressed in sailor garb), My Melody (a pink . . . bunny), Little Twin Stars (fairy twins!), Hangyodon (a wide-eyed, turquoise, big-lipped fish) are just a few of the familiar faces you’ll see again at the Small Gift Pop-Up Shop Tour.

There are tote bags ($12-$36), laptop cases ($42), bobble heads ($18), memo blocks ($3), sweat shirts ($38) and your usual items. But the real standouts include a red-white-and-blue Hello Kitty fish-eye lomo camera ($60) and another special-edition Girl X Hello Kitty skateboard deck ($59). Do I need another one? Yes, I do!

Visit for a complete “menu” of merchandise available, listed under such headers as “snacks,” “main dishes,” “starters,” “sweets” and “sides.”

See what I mean by kawaii?

Sanrio’s Small Gift Pop-Up Shop Tour at the District at Tustin Legacy, 2437 Park Ave., Tustin, (714) 259-9090; Nov. 7, 11 a.m.-7 p.m.

This column appeared in print as “Hello, Kitty Wallet.”

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