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By Martin @ ManduNYC
Okay, just by looking at the title of this post, I know what you all are thinking: “Aren’t you a little biased?” Yes, maybe just a little bit. However, I truly believe that shopping at smaller K-Pop retailers has more value for the customer than giving big corporations your business.
Now there are three reasons I want to give you to shop at smaller K-Pop exclusive stores. The first is the availability of products. Yes, your local Walmart or Target has likely picked up BTS - Map of the Soul: Persona and yes, they likely have it in large quantities. But, has your local big department store ever heard of Red Velvet? How about BTOB? What about absolute queens like BoA, Sunmi, or HyunA? Do they even know what a lightstick is (and no, I’m not talking about flashlights)? Smaller companies that have their main sights set on K-Pop are able to provide a much more diverse lineup of products ranging from albums to lightsticks to apparel and more. And the best part? Supporting smaller stores will allow them to grow and expand their product line so they can get even more of the items you like and want! While I can’t speak for all smaller stores, we at Mandu are looking to keep an ear out to what our customers are looking for because we want to make you just as happy as the groups you listen to do!
The second thing I want to talk about are the perks of visiting your local small shops. As a small shop, we want to strive to make your visit an exciting one! Purchasing the new album of your bias group is typically a much more fun experience, especially when you get the surprise of a possible gift to go along with it! Now obviously gifts aren’t given with EVERY purchase necessarily, but a lot of smaller businesses also give their customers chances to win giveaways either in-store or online, earn rewards with a reward point system, or sometimes even raffling off tickets to events! The other great thing about having a local shop near you is having an informed staff answer any questions you may have about products, availability and recommendations!
And finally, the last and most important reason to visit your local K-Pop store: Community. As an employee of Mandu, I can’t stress enough how many people make new friends in our pop-up in NYC. Whether it’s with the staff or with other customers, the community surrounding our store and other local stores is incredible. The goal of the K-Pop fandom has always been one of bringing people together in the name of music, and I feel that small retail stores offer that same community value that the music we sell represents. I have talked with people about my bias group, GOT7, for a brief amount of seconds to tens of minutes before and that feeling is so heartwarming. Back in 2009 when I first got into K-Pop, I didn’t have such a sense of community. I had my two friends who were as into it as I was and no one else to share my joy with. As a fandom, we’ve come so very far to extend our reach to a now worldwide community where we laugh, scream, smile and cry (sometimes all at the same time!) and it really feels wonderful to exist as a part of that. And to be a part of that while working for a company that cares so deeply to contributing to this fandom? It’s a wonderful feeling.
Lastly, I want to say that if you don’t have a local K-Pop store or an online store you frequent, this post isn’t to flame you for choosing to buy your albums from a department store. Your money is your business! This post is just for the awareness that we small stores do exist and are here because, just like you, we’re crazy about K-Pop and want to bring even more love, happiness, and community to this fandom! Please support us, so we can support you, our favorite Mandus!
Mandu Apparel currently operates online and has a physical pop-up shop in Canal Street Market in New York City’s Chinatown! Come check us out at 265 Canal Street in NYC, online at manduapparel.com, and on Twitter and Instagram, @manduapparel !