There’s nothing more disappointing as a K-pop fan than living in an area where the word “K-pop” doesn’t even ring a bell to the majority of the population. Not only that, but there’s no place for a K-pop fan to even buy merchandise. Sure, anyone can order things online, but the feeling is not the same as walking around a store and purchasing an item that catches your eye. Well, K-pop fans living in North Carolina can enjoy that experience!
On September 8, 2018, North Carolina’s first official K-pop store, Oppang, opened its doors. According to the owners, Dante and Maria, the store started off as an idea in their apartment in 2016 while they were living in Korea. Before they knew it, that idea soon became a reality.
Oppang originally began as an online store where the owners sold their one-of-a-kind K-pop clothing. After receiving much support and interest, they decided to take it to the next level and open up a physical store.
Anyone who walks into the store feels right at home as they are greeted by Biscuit, the owners’ cat. Biscuit is only an added bonus to the rest of the shop. The store is equipped with merchandise for almost every K-pop group that exists in the industry today. From stickers to lightsticks, Oppang has it all and more! They even have limited edition items that come straight from South Korea.
“We try looking for limited items like signed CDs and special goods,” stated Dante. Maria continued, “We do it because there is a lot of items that Korean fans can get in Korea that can be hard for foreign fans to get.”
An array of albums can be found along the walls, and there’s even a whiteboard where fans can make suggestions on what albums the store should stock. Many customers gather around the mini jukebox that is set up to play K-pop tunes. At any time of the day, a person may find fans singing their hearts out to their favorite song. Customers can also win plushies from Oppang’s claw machine.
The Oppang owners have also hosted and participated in community events like NC Korea Fest, which is held annually at the NC State Fairgrounds. They’ve also formed their own Korean language study group to help those in the area who have an interest in learning Korean. Those who follow the store’s social media profiles have often come across many opportunities to participate in free giveaways, photocard trading events, and even K-pop festivals. They have even donated money to different causes for K-pop idols. For example, they did a memorial for Sulli of f(x) and took donations for the National Alliance on Mental Illness. Dante and Maria want nothing more than for their customers to be comfortable and confident about their love for K-pop.
“We want to make sure to let people know that [love of] K-pop is normal,” expressed Dante. “It is not a weird thing. It is music.”
Sadly, the owners have reported that Oppang will be closing soon due to having to look after their family for the time being. Dante and Maria have high hopes that Oppang will eventually make another come back, and in the meantime, hope that many who have supported them continue to be their K-pop loving selves. North Carolinian K-pop fans have really enjoyed being a part of the Oppang family and will be sad to see them go. We wish nothing but the best for Maria, Dante, and their daughter, Biscuit.
Have you shopped at Oppang or would you go if you had the chance? Let us know in the comments below!
Cover Image: Oppang
Written by Cris White