Goodbye, Kitty

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Sanrio Gardena co-owner Mie Mura around 1990. She and her husband first opened their store in 1977.

GARDENA — Sanrio Gardena, located at 1630 W. Redondo Beach Blvd. in Pacific Square, has posted the following message to its customers:

“With a broken heart, it pains us to announce that we will be permanently closing on June 30, 2020.

“From the bottom of our hearts, we would like to sincerely thank each and every one of you for always supporting us, but more importantly thank you for your friendship.

“You’ve made this place more than just a store — you made it a home. Thank you for 42  years of friendship!”

The announcement comes despite an outpouring of support after the store posted a plea for help on May 15:

“It goes without saying that we are all facing incredible hardships during th is panedmic. We, as a small business, have endured many hardships, but this one has been the most devastating.

“With tears welled up in our eyes, it’s hard for us to let you know that we are on the brink of having to close our doors and that’s why we are reaching out to you at this critical moment. We need your support now more than ever. Any purchase no matter how big or small would be a great help.

“We’ve been here for 42 years and we’ve had the great fortune of creating amazing bonds of friendship and seen many generations of friends and family come through this store. We love and appreciate every single one of you.”

Everything in the store is 30 percent off except: already marked-down items; Friend of the Month pins; Hello Kitty Goods magazines.

Store hours: Monday-Friday, 12-5 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; closed Sunday.

Longtime Sanrio Surprises employee Tokiko McNally.

In-store shopping guidelines: Face masks are required to enter the store. A maximum of six people at a time will be allowed inside the store so that everyone can practice social distancing comfortably. Hand sanitizer will be provided before entering and exiting the store.

Forms of payment: Cash, debit and credit cards (escept American Express).

Items will be sold on a first-come, first-served basis. Items cannot be placed on hold.

Bonus cards are no longer valid/redeemable at this location.

All Friend of the Month pins (2016-May 2020) are $4 each. They will no longer be free with purchase.

All sales are final. No returns or exchanges.

For more information, call (310) 532-7657.

A Loving and Grateful Farewell

Rafu contributor Mieko Beyer spoke with Mie Mura, who along with husband Tsuyoshi, opened their store called Gift Gate in 1977. 

“We were a company-owned store at the time, but then in May 1990, we took over the store and became Sanrio Surprises. 

The store originally opened in 1977 under the name Gift Gate.

“We’ve had the great fortune of having many wonderful people who worked for us and contributed to the growth of this store. Such people include: Tokiko Mc- Nally, Tsugiko Kawano, Tomoko Hoshino, Evelin Ordaz and many many more wonderful women. But these women worked for me the longest; they each worked 12 to 14 years and helped create and foster a friendly environment.

“The first day we opened was on May 15, 1990, and to be quite honest, I don’t fully remember that day, because there was so much going on, but I asked Tsugiko because she was also here that day and she had this to say: 

“‘It was such a busy, busy day! We had so many people/customers that came on that day. We also had Hello Kitty come and visit. It’s honestly difficult to remember much of that day because of how busy it was, but we were also overwhelmed because we were still in the middle of moving from Gift Gate to this current location.’ 

“Some of my favorite memories that I have of this store is seeing both children and adults enter the store, and seeing their eyes and faces light up when they would see all of the cute merchandise. I would never get tired of seeing that. Everyone looked so happy and so excited to enter the store, and that made me really happy. 

“I also loved talking with the customers and getting to know them and their families. I’ve had many generations of families come through this store and I’m so grateful that they allowed us to be a part of their lives. It’s so special.

Tsugiko Kawano donned the Hello Kitty costume on opening day as Sanrio Surprises on May 15, 1990.

“The most popular items were stationery goods and candy! Everyone LOVED Sanrio candy. It made the whole store smell really nice. Candy and wooden pencils were some of the most affordable items for kids. 

“The store never really changed throughout the years. It was consistent in that way. 

“When COVID-19 hit, it was really difficult for our business, because we had to close the store for a little over two months. We didn’t have a single sale throughout that time, but still needed to pay our bills and that’s when we realized that we couldn’t continue with the business. 

On May 14, 2020 we reopened for curbside pickup and that’s when I told my employee, Evelin that we most likely we’re going to close the business. She got very emotional and told me that she needed to do something – she refused to give up. So on May 15, she made a post on our social media platforms asking customers for their help. The following day, sooooo many people came to make a purchase! It was incredible! We had such a long line and we honestly couldn’t believe it. It was so amazing to see the out pour of support from so many people. We even received so many lovely messages from people in different states and countries. 

“We truly tried our best to stay open, but unfortunately, it wasn’t possible. But I want to thank every single person who has supported us throughout the years. They were the ones who made this store so special. 

“Now that we’ve closed the store, I’ m going to enjoy my retirement.” 

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