Let’s face it. We all have had or have one in our neighborhoods. The Korean owned beauty supply store. Infamous for the most lonely, nonverbal, and straight forward purchasing experience you could imagine. The meticulous attention to detail put forth by the owners. From the placement of the wigs and wig mannequins, to the strategic placement of the Jamaican cold pressed black castor oil at the register. These owners have our buying habits down to a science. They know exactly how we move around. They are up on the latest trends before we are.
You’d think when looking at these beauty department stores as I like to call them, that this would definitely be a place that caters to the African American woman. It is as if they know exactly what we need when we need it especially in a beauty emergency or quick stop before the club.
I am always amazed at how they somehow know that on this particular Saturday night, I’d run out of the only mascara that actually makes my lashes longer even if it is a generic brand. They know that our addiction to hair culturally and our economic comparison to our White counter parts generally speaking allows a perfect storm of success for them.
They will make the earrings $ 0.99 and make the human hair full lace wig $200.00. The woman that has the $200 to spare will not buy the .99 cent earrings, however the woman buying the .99 cent earrings will save for the $200 wig. Get it? Either way, they make the sale…twice.
What ever you do, do not think they are some mediocre Asian immigrants that don’t know things… they do!
Korean owned beauty supply stores know EXACTLY how to succeed and they are doing it to the tune of 2.5 Billion. It is an industry that can not exist without the African American woman. CAN’T EXIST.
Now, while I have no problem with anyone striving and accomplishing the ‘American Dream’, I shudder at the thought of the number of investments that go back into the community of which they get rich. Are they sponsoring the local Black baseball team? The local high school? How about the food banks?
Obviously I can not generalize and dare not stereo type these people. I come willing to be corrected for sure, however, I won’t hold my breath for the proof of action taken by them. I am myself a former hair stylist of over 15 years and I know first hand the pure gold that is to be had from Black women and our hair. We don’t play. Hair is as important to us as brushing our teeth. Hell, I’d dare to wonder if hair is even more important than teeth to some. LBVS.
WITH ALL THAT SAID…HOW ARE WE TREATED?
It is obvious that having a beauty supply store in a Black neighborhood is the gift that keeps on giving. We have made many families rich over the years. I am all for it. Get your money!
However, my dignity, trust, value and money have to be respected as your pockets get bigger. It is the very least you can do. I remember all too well being a teen in the 90’s and being followed from isle to isle while I looked for my Wet N Wild #521 Fusia OMG smokin hot lipstick. The owner of the beauty supply by my house would greet me with a smile (one of the few) and pretend she was so happy to see me. You could set your watch to the time it would take for her to ‘casually’ come from behind the unnecessarily high up in the sky counter and gracefully end up in the same isles I roamed through. As a teen, I knew what was happening but was not aware of the real impact it was having on my subconscious.
I’m sure if you are reading this, you or someone you know can relate. We have been a culture that lives day to day guilty as charged. You would think by the year 2019/20 that things would have significantly gotten better. Well yes and no. I do believe it is regional. As I write this in the south, however, being born and raised in the north, I do see how the memo has yet to reach down here that we are done being disrespected.
I have noticed in the northern regions that the Korean owned stores are a tad more involved in the cause. They have sponsored a few events and interacted with their customers more than when I was coming up. Again, not so much down here in the southern regions that I am aware.
I often wonder how much they spend on security and what kind of brainwashing did they get before either coming here or deciding to open in our neighborhoods. In 1991, I had a friend that worked for a local beauty supply store. He had been working there for over 5 years. He told me that after he was trusted, they asked him to go over to Korea and teach ‘Black Slang’ to the up and coming future supply owners that were to come to the US. They offered to pay his flight, stay and food. They wanted him to go for a month. The pay was $40,000.00! Keep in mind, they were not asking him to teach English, they were wanting him to teach ‘Black Slang’ or Ebonics. He politely declined which I know was very hard to do. I am so happy he did.
SO WHAT DO WE DO?
We immediately log all of the information you gather when visiting these places and let us know at Afroproven. I understand that no business is perfect. I understand that not every Korean owned beauty supply treats us as mentioned, however, I personally have yet to experience any over and beyond appreciation for my money. Or my sis and bros as we build their empires. It is surely ok to speak anyway. To smile anyway. Don’t come out of your character as a good person, however, it is also okay to speak up for yourself if being followed. With this platform, you can immediately get the word out.
We’d also like for you to give the shouts out that are deserving as well. Do you know of a very friendly, well mannered and involved Asian owned beauty supply? We’d love to know.
As for me and my family, we give them one shot. It does not take more than 1 visit to know if I will be back. Make them accountable and demand respect. Or, find the nearest Black Owned beauty supply.
Occupation: Business Owner
Location: Charlotte, NC
“You don’t get what you want, you get what you are so be nice.”