South Georgia’s ‘U Plus Beauty Supply’
sells expensive wigs well!
The challenge of the second act of life! Create a unique Beauty Supply space.
I met Kim Kyung-ho (64), CEO of U+ Beauty Supply, who runs a large store of 10,000 square feet in Jesup, a small city in southern Georgia, and talked about his management philosophy of creating a beauty supply and strategies to help customers.
The second act of my life is Beauty Supply
In 1990, in his early 30s, CEO Kim Kyung-ho set foot in Baltimore, Maryland with his wife, one son, and one daughter. He woke up at 4 a.m. at Lexington Market, Baltimore’s most famous African-American market, to experience carrier, seafood, vegetable trimming, and cooking. Then, seeing his wife and children fit in nicely thanks to his hard work, he opened his first grocery store in 2001 and rejoiced at his success. However, in 2016, like most Korean stores, it was severely damaged by the black riots in the Baltimore area. The damaged grocery store was in indescribable chaos and multiple gunshots and robberies endangered him throughout the day. So, he started looking for other businesses.
At that time, the two children were already grown up, so they could find various businesses without burden. He encountered the beauty supply at the recommendation of his acquaintances, but he tried to give up on the fact that it was a downward business and that loans were not coming out well from banks. He was then introduced to a beauty supply called Baxley, a small town in southern Georgia, by her sister-in-law (now general manager of U+ Beauty Supply) in Savannah, Georgia, and eventually took over the store and started his second life at the age of 60.
Thanks to his sister-in-law who lives in Georgia Southern, he put his personality into the first beauty supply that he got into.
He was afraid of the new field of beauty, and when I saw the first store, I thought about it for a while because I didn’t like it. However, with a firm determination to apply it to the beauty supply, it took over the store in 2019 and finally entered the beauty supply field. The first thing CEO Kim Kyung-ho did as soon as he took over the store was to replace all the ceiling lights. According to the conventional wisdom that a store should be bright, products should stand out, and people want to visit again, we are doing our best to create a store that shines.
After systematically arranging, he, who had no idea about hair, learned about the differences between straight hair, braiding, crocheting, style differences, and each product’s primary and unique colors. Next, he made a glass shelf to display chemical products. As he set them up individually, naturally learning where to use them and why they were needed, he gradually melted into the beauty supply industry. At the same time, I thoroughly applied my personality to the beauty supply to suit my style.
He is still learning the business diligently.
It would not have been easy to do a completely different job and enter a new beauty supply business based on the lack of beauty experience. However, CEO Kim Kyung-ho said that compared to blacks in Baltimore, blacks in southern Georgia are entirely different. They are kind, gentle, friendly and polite. He has been running a beauty supply store for four years and has never had a significant accident. Of course, there are cases of theft, which account for less than 2% of total sales, but the secret of neighborhood stores is to pass on this much loss flexibly compared to beauty supplies in other regions, CEO Kim Kyung-ho added. He is also a local merchant, so everyone knows him, so he always greets customers with a smile and kindly explains and finds them if they ask for even a small item. He said he was delighted with the customer and the place.
Jesup is a small city with a population of 10,000, but as it is the largest beauty supply in the region (10,000 square meters), there are many hair and chemical products, clothes, and miscellaneous goods. There are many diverse products, so many young generations looking for beauty supplies in big cities these days also visit this place. Wigs account for 40% of total sales, braided hair products 30%, pharmaceuticals 20%, and miscellaneous goods and clothing 10%. CEO Kim Kyung-ho noted that the second act of his life as a beauty supply was delightful and that he was diligently studying and learning the beauty business.
Store management is also an art!
When asked what he cares about most about store management, CEO Kim Kyung-ho says, ‘Convenience and comfort.’ For customers who have visited once, he drew an easy flow line to instill the concept that the items they were looking for were always there, and the aisles were widened so that customers could enjoy shopping without bumping into each other. He concludes that the definition of store management is ‘The interior of the store is important to interact with customers, so let’s make it convenient and comfortable so that there is no shortage of shopping.’ It is said that he learned it himself.
Know-how in-store display and inventory disposal
Due to the nature of the beauty supply, there are many different products, so the display rack was lowered a little so that customers could easily find what they wanted, and only chairs and mirrors were provided in a separate space so that customers could try on wigs and clothing as much as they wished to without staff. In addition, since popular products do not last long and change quickly, we cooperated with salespeople to procure popular products and store well-received ones separately at the front of the store.
I was most curious about inventory handling, but CEO Kim Kyung-ho said he had never returned an item to a beauty wholesale company. His philosophy is that trends come and go, and in the end, if you look at them as a long-term thing and organize them well, (even unpopular products) will sell out someday. So, while selling the hottest products, out-of-season products are treated as a 50% discount event, and the remaining stock is donated to the local community and church, etc., and said that you should never be stressed about inventory management.
Honesty and a positive mind for all businesses
He advises customers to keep themselves as low as possible. It is said that he has been in business for 30 years and has met many people. His management philosophy is that all businesses are eventually done through people and people, so if you approach them honestly, you will succeed. A positive-minded person is creative and diligent, so I am confident that sincerity and honesty are robust success strategies unique to U Plus Beauty Supply.
CEO Kim Kyung-ho respects salespersons always!
CEO Kim Kyung-ho considers the relationship with the salespersons responsible for the supply and demand of the store essential, probably because he has experience in running a grocery store in the past. Therefore, he is well aware that he must try new products unconditionally and order existing products consistently so that popular products are supplied with priority even when there is a backorder. Furthermore, since they come on business trips from far away and show the goods with sincerity, they honestly tell us that they place more orders when they visit in person (rather than by phone). In addition, since beauty wholesale companies and retail stores have a symbiotic relationship with each other, CEO Kim Kyung-ho emphasized that salespeople should be treated like family and sometimes like friends.
His unstoppable challenge
He said he never expected to do beauty supply when he organized his long-standing career in Baltimore and planned a new business. However, he has become a beauty supply expert more than anyone else, and my pride is excellent. CEO Kim Kyung-ho’s goal is to break away from the idea that the beauty supply is simply a place that sells stylish tools and makes it a space for communication necessary for residents, just as the human nature of decorating oneself from the beginning does not change. If there is a goal in the future, Jesup is an area with many lumberyards and chemical factories, and it is a city with many whites and older adults, so it wants to make the elderly customers.
As beauty supply is the beginning of heaven’s second act of life, he gave a small wish to be together for a long time with the heart of serving the local community. So let’s give him a round of applause for his journey ahead!
<Management know-how for each section of the general manager through photos>
As wigs account for over 40% of total sales, U Plus Beauty Supply pays the most attention. Due to the nature of customers in this area, employees do not prefer to help them too much, so they only provide chairs and mirrors so that customers can wear various wigs comfortably, and the manager only advises on color selection. In the future, it will be equipped with more styles that white and older people want to adapt thoroughly to local characteristics.
For braids sold most consistently, products from major companies are preferred for smooth supply and demand. Popular fashion twists, crochet braiding, and water waves are always fully ordered to avoid backorders. The free-stretched type is also a popular product that sells steadily because it is easy to care for. Hair deals with all products of about 30 companies.
Products that are continuously popular and products that will increase orders in the future have been separately arranged. Recently, among skincare products, we are also interested in whitening products and well-being products, so we expect sales to increase.
If cosmetics slowed down during the COVID-19 period and a lot of long eyelashes went out among eyelashes, sales of color cosmetics and sunscreen types are increasing now that the corona is over and the mask is taken off.
Jewelry is an item that is sold steadily without a big change in sales.
Miscellaneous goods and clothing
Miscellaneous goods are the part that has consistently raised sales during the COVID-19 period. After the corona, apparel sales, which have been stagnant, are rising. As the weather gets hotter, I prefer light and flashy styles. Recently, many customers have been looking for hair tool products.