With all the attention Chicago has been getting on the K-Pop concert scene recently, I thought it might be kinda fun to start introducing my fellow fans to the wonderful Korean side of this fair city. This way, when fans from out-of-town flock to the city for a concert, they can find places to indulge their taste for Korean culture and fill their bellies with all manner of delicious Korean food. (Because what self-respecting K-Pop fan doesn’t crave a steaming plate of ddeokbokki or a refreshing bowl of bingsu every now and then?) I thought it seemed only fitting to begin this new segment of mine with the sort of K-Pop mecca of Chicago. The one place every K-Pop fan who visits the City has to visit at least once (if not twice, or even thrice) while they’re here. The one… The only… THE K-POP STORE!
Located in the heart of Chicago’s Chinatown, the K-Pop Store is every K-Pop fan’s dream come true. Overflowing with all manner of K-Pop goodness, this store is the place to go, whether you’re looking for your bias group’s latest album, or a pair of socks that bears your ulti’s face. From lightsticks to face masks, snapbacks to hoodies, jewelry, coffee mugs, posters, backpacks, pillows, nail art, cosmetics, drama OSTs and of course, albums, this store has it all and it’s wonderful! I do have to warn you though, once you step foot through the front door, the urge to buy one of everything is VERY real! For those of you visiting from out-of-town, I recommend you either come with the entire contents of your savings account in your pocket or an iron will. Either one will help you, though I’ll tell you from experience, that iron will tends to corrode pretty quickly when you’re drooling over your biases.
I highly recommend allowing yourself plenty of time to wander around the store. There really is a lot of merch available and you don’t want to feel rushed as you browse. From front to back, floor to ceiling, this store is overflowing with all manner of K-Pop goodness and you’re definitely going to want to see it all. While you’re browsing, be sure to take the time to talk to stop and talk to the shop’s owner, Ms. Ko. She’s a fount of K-Pop knowledge and is hands down, one of the sweetest people you will ever meet.
If you’re relying on public transportation to get you around the City, you can take the Red Line to Cermak. From there, all you’ve got to do cross Cermak and head about a block south on Wentworth and you’re there. If you’re driving to Chinatown, street parking is available but finding a place is tricky at best. You’d probably fare better if you parked in one of the public parking lots. There’s a good one on the north-east corner of Cermak and Wentworth, right by the Red Line stop, and it’s a whole heck of a lot cheaper than a lot of the other downtown parking garages but it’s still not a cheap as street parking. If you’re lucky enough to score a parking spot on the street, I will warn you, those spots are strictly metered so be sure to keep track of your time. You don’t want to come crashing down from your K-Pop high by finding a $50 parking ticket stuck to your windshield. *ahem*
The building itself is pretty easy to find, sandwiched between the Chinatown Bazaar and the May Flower Restaurant. The bright pink “K-POP K-POP K-POP” running across the storefront does a good job of making the building stand out and you can’t miss all the band posters hung in the windows, tempting you to come… shop… buy…
If you’re coming to Chicago for a K-Pop concert, you can’t consider your trip complete without visiting Ms. Ko’s store. It’s a fantastic shop and one of my most favorite places to spend a lazy afternoon, though my wallet usually goes home in tears.
If you’d like more information about Chicago’s Chinatown K-Pop Store, be sure to check out their Facebook Page. You could also leave any questions you may have in the comments below and I’ll do my best to help you out.