Las Vegas teen’s convention pulls in Littlest Pet Shop fans

Summerlin teen Nana Sarfo was 3 when she started collecting toy pets from Hasbro’s Littlest Pet Shop (LPS), a toy franchise that arose in the early ’90s.

Now 15, she runs a growing annual conference for fans that drew about 300 participants to the Henderson Convention Center this year.

“I have around 600 LPS,” Sarfo, 15, said, “and there are people who have way more than me. I’ve been in the online community since I was 9, so YouTube, Instagram, all of that. I met some really cool people and I thought it would be cool to meet some of them in person because a lot of people keep their love for LPS hidden; they’re afraid of what people will think of them.”

LPS collectors generally range in age from 11 to 25, according to Sarfo. Many are YouTubers who create weekly video series — starring rare LPS toys with scripts and detailed story lines. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W33LL3HhKYM&t=20s

“That’s how the community starts,” Sarfo said. “You watch and you get inspired. When you grow up, you see people in the community who are 21 or 25 or 16 … or even 11. It all ranges. The interest keeps going, and it kind of follows you forever.”

Sarfo has created LPS episodes herself, and she has sold about 371 tickets for next year’s June conference, which, for the first time, will last two days. Tickets start at $30 for one day and $45 for premium. The premium ticket for both days is $95. Premium tickets include access to live Q&A panels, book signings and an awards ceremony.

She’s funded everything herself, using money from ticket sales to purchase what’s needed for the annual event.

In February, Sarfo’s amibition intrigued board members at The Meadows School, where she’s a sophomore. During a “Shark Tank”-like presentation at the school, Sarfo pitched the LPS-CON idea for funding and won, receiving $20,000 and a board of investors including Eric Kurtzman, Brad Howard, Mike Borden, Todd Spector, Theresa Fette, and B.C. LeDoux.

“There’s a lot done at the conference,” Sarfo said. “We always do trading, where people can trade their LPS. One of the events we did was an LPS Jeopardy!, and a lot of people liked that. I think the best event we did was the LPS fashion show. Our theme was wedding, and the winning team had this car and had the LPS dressed up in dresses and on the back of the car it said ‘just married.’ It was really cool. LPS I think is a great way for the community to express themselves. There’s so much you can do with plastic and a huge imagination.”

Sarfo was the keynote speaker at the Young Leaders Conference at the Luxor on Oct. 14. She spoke about her experience as a young entreprenuer, discussing how she turned an intimate gathering into a thriving convention.

“When she started this conference, we thought it was a play date,” Rose Sarfo, Nana’s mother, said. “Then the second time she had it, 60 people came. Then the third time, there were 300. We didn’t think anything of it at first; we were just supporting her. But it grew so fast. We are so proud of her.”

“I want to keep doing this convention until it’s run its course,” Sarfo said. “If there’s a drastic decline in attendance, I’ll know it’s time to stop. But after this, I want to do something in the horse business — buy rescue horses and retrain them — making their value good then find them a good home.”

Contact Mia Sims at msims@reviewjournal.com. Follow @miasims___ on Twitter.

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