Would you attend a Hello Kitty convention? Dressed in Hello Kitty costumes, Thalia, left, and Kammie wait in line on preview night at the 2014 Comic-Con International Convention (AP photos)
Would you attend a Hello Kitty convention?
Lexile

Marty Garrett and Salumeh Eslamieh gave up their garage for Hello Kitty.

The married couple turned the garage of their San Francisco home into a showroom for their vast Hello Kitty collection. Museum-style glass cases hold hundreds of rare and vintage Kitty items. They include a rotary phone from 1976 and a gumball machine from 1983. A four-foot-tall fiberglass statue of the Sanrio character, which Garrett calls "the holy grail of our Hello Kitty collection," stands in the corner.

The couple met and bonded over the little white cat (or the little girl with kitty ears and whiskers, if you prefer). They will travel to Los Angeles this week to celebrate the character's 40th birthday at Hello Kitty Con. It's a four-day festival dedicated to all things Kitty.

"This is the first time there has ever been a fan convention of this kind," Sanrio spokesman Dave Marchi said. "It's the only one happening anywhere in the world."

And it's already sold out. More than 25,000 fans are expected. An exhibition at the neighboring Japanese American National Museum, "Hello! Exploring the Supercute World of Hello Kitty," will continue through April 26.

Garrett and Eslamieh, both 32, were already Hello Kitty fans before they met. Though most of their Sanrio collection lives in the garage-turned-showroom, there are pieces sprinkled throughout their house. The couple keeps a mini Hello Kitty kitchen inside their real kitchen. They hand-painted a skylight above their dinner table with Sanrio characters.

"It's a pretty substantial part of our interests together," said Garrett. "It does sort of guide and direct the things we do."

During their courtship, Garrett worked at a Sanrio store where Eslamieh would often visit. When the store closed, they bought its giant Sanrio sign. It's on display in their showroom.

They visit Sanrio stores wherever they find them. They made a special trip to Japan to visit PuroLand, Tokyo's Sanrio theme park, and went to Honolulu's Sanrio Cafe on their honeymoon.

"I always wanted more Sanrio," said Eslamieh, who has a Hello Kitty tattoo on her shoulder. The college professor confessed that her mother once called a radio psychiatrist for advice about her daughter's lifelong obsession with Kitty/kiddie characters.

"You have to like cute things, and that's just not some people's personality," said Eslamieh, who keeps her love of Kitty separate from her professional life.

Garrett, an elementary school teacher, has always been a collector. He collects video games, too, and has 676 of the 677 original Nintendo games.

Garrett has integrated his love of Sanrio stuff into his work. Some of the couple's collection is kept in his fourth-grade classroom at Lawton Alternative School.

"And especially that he's a man," Eslamieh added, "it gives boys license not to have to be so macho."

Critical thinking challenge: Why did the Sanrio store where Marty worked sell its sign?

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COMMENTS (50)
  • Madisonm157
    10/31/2014 - 10:58 a.m.

    I would love to go to a hello kitty convention, I always loved hello kitty it was a cute character. So maybe in the future i can go to one of these coventions.

  • rachelh10503
    10/31/2014 - 11:57 a.m.

    I WANT TO GO NOW SO BAD. many people would like it and enjoy the different things they could look at as well as a diversity of hello kitty items.

  • samanthpanda200
    10/31/2014 - 12:11 p.m.

    I would like to go to one of those that would be fun. Hello kitty is one of my favorite characters. I would want to dress up as her one day.

  • 8HERNANDEZNABIL-Flo
    11/01/2014 - 10:30 a.m.

    The Sanrio store had to sell it's sign because they were going out of business and they needed to get some money. They also sold the sign because they were didn't need the sign and someone else wanted it.

  • CatalinaPinto
    11/02/2014 - 12:37 p.m.

    The article is about a married couple, Marty Garrett and Salumeh Eslamieh. They are huge fans of Hello Kitty. They turned their garage in a showroom that collects all their Hello Kitty stuff. The couple is going to the convention that will celebrate the 40th birthday of the little white cat at Hello Kitty con. A sanrio spokesman said that it has never been a fan convention of this kind and the tickets are already sold out. Garrett and Eslamieh both liked Hello Kitty before they got married and when Garret worked at a Sanrio store that then close, they bought a big Sanrio sign. Most of their collection is in their showroom but they also have some objects around their house like a mini kitchen in their real kitchen. Also they like to visit Sanrio stores and went to Puroland a Sanrios theme park in Tokyo and Honolulus Sanrio Cafe on their honeymoon. Eslamieh keeps her love of Hello Kitty separate from her professional life but Garrett keeps some of their collection in a fourth year classroom where he works.
    When I was a child I didnt like Hello Kitty I dont know why. Now I like her but more than Hello Kitty I like her friends and all the cute stuff related to her. My favorites are Kiki and Lala, My Melody, Purin, Keroppi, Chococat and Kuromi. They are so cute!
    I think is cute that a couple can share a common interest like Hello Kitty. I wouldnt mind if a boy likes cute stuff like my favorite bear Rilakkuma.

  • mariajose03
    11/02/2014 - 07:17 p.m.

    Why did the Sanrio store where Marty worked sell its sign?

    Probably the Sanrio store was closed and sold its sign because of financial problems. Maybe the store was bankrupt and that was a reason why they sold all their products. Another reason could be because the owner did not want to go on with the business anymore. Therefore, Marty took that opportunity to buy the Hello Kittys collection. I believe that if i were a fan and collector of Hello Kitty items like Marty, i had not wanted to lose that spectacular collection. He was lucky that he was a Hello Kitty fan as well as his future wife.

  • qianqiany-Koc
    11/03/2014 - 01:59 a.m.

    This hello kitty convention it's first time be there. Also it's my first time heart about like this kind convention , if I have chance , prabably I will be there

  • 02Tasha-May
    11/03/2014 - 02:31 p.m.

    First of all "yes" I would go to a Hello Kitty convention. She is a cute character and I love all things Hello Kitty. And I think it is so cool how there is a convention just for her.

  • CarterWi-Wil
    11/03/2014 - 03:41 p.m.

    Personally no I wouldn't go to a hello kitty convention because I don't see the point in that character. All it is is a little white cat with a bow. Yet people go crazy over it, like its a god or something. People have better ways to spend their time and money than on a silly little cat. That's just my opinion I mean if you love and obsess over the character then so be it but I don't see a point in waisting your time on it.

  • Eriku2
    11/03/2014 - 08:00 p.m.

    This story is about a couple who are huge hello kitty fans. they have converted their garage into all thing hello kitty and have hello kitty thing all throughout the house. One of them even has hello kitty tat toed on their arm. they will be attending the hello kitty con. I think that this is a little strange but if you have a passion for something you should do it.

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