Kim’s Hair Plus where you can find everything.
In the downtown Nashville, Tennessee area, there is a retail store that has been up and running for the past 30 years. From hair bands to premium hair products and from underwear to church uniforms, it is carrying a wide range of products people look for and has a long business hour welcoming customers. It’s the story of Kim’s Hair Plus. Since its grand opening in 1992, it has always tried to expand its product offering rather than tightening the balance sheet. Kim’s beauty supply is always busy with customers making a trip for shopping from a distance. Most of the customers end up shopping for way more items than they planned, and it must be the result of business owner Hyunmi Park’s meticulous search for items that people would take an interest in and buy. So far, business owner Park opened three locations of Kim’s Hair Plus, but the first store is special to her. We interviewed Park to listen to the stories of running beauty supplies and her business philosophy.
A store filled with love and care
It’s often said that the face reveals one’s life. Your personality and life experiences do show on your face. A store is not so different. You can easily find the footprints of years of business on the retail floor. A store without the owner’s love and care is dim and grim. Kim’s Hair Plus shows off an adorable exterior and greets you with a bright and clean interior. Though it offers a wide range of merchandise, they are not overlapped or messy. Each section claims its own space and the alternative display of products is the key feature. Ponytails, wig, human hair, crochet, braid, and other hair products are not altogether but alternating with clothes and accessories for a better appearance and improved experience for shoppers.
Nowhere else to find: Church clothing.
Kim’s Hair Plus has a large section for hats and church outfits as big as the wig section. Instead of piling up hats, each hat is placed within a glass display, and the matching clothing items are placed nearby. Since the beginning of the store, Kim’s Hair Plus carried church outfits, and they have become the trademark of Kim’s. They generated considerable revenue 30 years ago, but the demand dwindled starting around 15 years ago. While the sales shrunk, they still occupy considerable space, but Park does not plan to let it go. Park wanted the church outfit to become the item that makes you think about Kim’s Hair Plus. The strategy might have worked, and the regular customers and people from other states including Kentucky who heard about the store from someone else make the store busy. While they sell much less than before, the demand is still there.
Even more diverse accessories
“In old days, there used to be hit items. They came out of nowhere and made jackpots, but today’s market is different. But the noticeable trend is that the share of accessories is getting larger.”
According to Park, while hair products are still the core of beauty supply business, the accessories are starting to play a bigger role in the beauty supply industry. Park says, “the products made by Korean American companies including KISS and NICKA K are becoming more high-end, and customers like them so they generate revenue.” Nowadays, companies don’t just follow the trend but set a trend with innovative products developed through trial and error as well as extensive research.
Braids are still the top hair products.
Since the pandemic, the demand for natural hair continues to rise and so does braiding. The number of braiding-related products has increased. While braids being the top products, Kim’s Hair Plus makes sure that no single customer goes home empty handed by carrying all sorts of hair products. It has a dedicated senior wig display and a section set aside for discounted wigs. Park says, “when you shop, there is the catharsis of finding a treasure, which is often an affordable item you like. I want my customers to have that feeling at our store, so even if the items are trending right now, I would offer them at a discount if I could procure them at a low price.”
Website and social media to generate foot traffic.
Kim’s Hair Plus runs a website as well as many social media accounts including Facebook and Instagram. Instead of selling products online, it focuses on attracting customers to visit the store by updating frequently with new product photos and product details. The Kim’s Hair Plus website delivers the message of “Visit Our Stores to See Our Selections.” It utilizes online tools but only to help offline businesses. Google Reviews are not overlooked. It performs an all-hands review of Google Reviews based on the bi-weekly Google Review Reports to improve customer service and tackle issues raised by customers. The business has an above-4 rating, and a recent mention includes a reviewer who visited Kim’s from Indiana to purchase wigs. Park’s words are not without a supporting witness.
She started running the beauty supply upon casually visiting her in-laws after immigrating to the U.S. in the early 90s. Her diligence and attention to detail business philosophy helped the continued success, but it was not possible without help from many people. To find more about it, please keep reading.
Long-time employees, some over twenty years, the boast of Kim’s Hair Plus
There are about 25 employees across its three locations. About 30% of them are Koreans. Park says boastfully, “We have employees who worked over twenty years here.” A manager was recently awarded the “Attendance Award” for never missing a day for the past ten years. Business owner Park makes sure that employees can feel comfortable at the workplace and work independently while also ensuring they are “kind to customers at all time and trying to make them come back with satisfactory service.”
Always thankful to the life-partner wholesalers
Park says, “For thirty years of business, I’ve witnessed the history of the beauty supply industry. I can run the business here today because the products are developed by wholesalers through investment, isn’t it?
It is an economically tough time now. The time of low is always felt harder by wholesale than a retail business. We are small and dynamic, so we can simply tighten our belts and get through it. It’s a different story for wholesale. I just want to say that if you stay strong, the good days will come.”
Park emphasized that her gratitude should be shown in the article because she wants to thank the wholesalers who have helped her so much. Also, she wants to share her own insight that “for retail business, they always work with sales associates. And those associates who lack professionalism ask for impossible favors, which should be tamed at the company level.”
Positive feedback from regulars is big motivation
About 25 years ago, a Black-owned beauty supply opened nearby. They hired hands to promote their business by directly talking to customers getting into Kim’s Hair Plus every Saturday by luring them with the “use Black-owned business” catchphrase. At that time, the regulars backed Kim’s Hair Plus. Despite the aggressive campaign, they kept visiting Kim’s beauty supply. And without the support, today’s Kim’s Hair Plus may not exist. In sincere gratitude, business owner Park delivers great customer service to every customer.
Park raised concerns about the prospect of the beauty supply industry. She says, “Non-Korean businesses are always looking for a gap. It’s not just Nashville but a nation-wide phenomenon. While the prospect of the beauty supply industry is not so bright, it’s even problematic that not many children of beauty supply business owners are taking part in the business.” Park expressed her wish that if her children have the will, she wants to make it a family business. There comes her plan for the fourth location. As braids persist in popularity, the product packages are getting bigger and longer. The store should feel too small now. She is considering a bigger 12,000 sq. ft. retail space which is a bit bigger than the current location.