Sam Moon Madness

Sam Moon
Sam Moon at his store
Wednesday, September 17, 2003

Sam Moon is a true believer in the power of shopping.

He’s made his fortune from it, and his Korean father built his Americandream with it.

Open for nearly 20 years, the Moon family’s business has helped to transforma decaying Dallas neighborhood into a booming and trendy shopping district.

“It’s amazing how much has happened in just 10 years,” Moonsays, referring to the changes in the family business since he took over fromhis father, David. “And we’re still growing.”

The Sam Moon Trading Co., a huge discount accessories store on Harry Hines Boulevard,has become the home of the serious discount shopper. Every day, and especiallySaturdays, swarms of shoppers come to the outlet for the latest in expensive-lookingjewelry and handbags minus the designer labels and high-dollar costs.

Customers aren’t just coming from the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Many regularlymake the pilgrimage from Oklahoma, Louisiana and all parts of Texas.

“People make day trips or take weekend holidays to come shop,” Moonsays. “We’ve even had a few actors like Florence Henderson or KimFields fly in to get a deal.”

Going public

The secret to the store’s success is that Moon cuts out the middleman.

David Moon originally opened the store in1984 as a wholesaler to local retailers.Sam took over the business in 1989 after graduating from the University NorthTexas with a bachelor’s degree in marketing, and soon realized that therewas a huge market for selling directly to the public.

“Typically, store owners buy from us and mark up the price,” Moonsays. “For instance, a retailer might charge three times more for earringsthan we charge.”

Acting as a wholesaler to retailers, the store makes a profit through the largesize of the orders. It still serves retailers. When it opened to the generalpublic in 1992, however, sales became phenomenal — as the parking lot shows,says Moon.

“It’s almost impossible to park near the store, especially on theweekends” he says. “Customers usually have to make a little bit ofa hike.”

The company draws some of the same class of customers who typically shop at NeimanMarcus with a name that many say is becoming just as venerable. Veering fromtheir traditional stylish regalia for the mall, these customers come dressedin sweats and sneakers ready to wrestle over retail products at Sam Moon prices.

‘ A lot of loot’

The atmosphere is like a bizarre bazaar.

The store has an army of employees, but no one’s pressuring customers to buy the products. Instead, workers are steadily restocking shelves and ringing up purchases.

The store is filled with a maze of tables and shelves stocked with women’s accessories: imported handbags, crystal jewelry, hair accessories, scarves, belts, wallets, shawls, earrings, necklaces, chains and rings. Moon has been known to call his store the “Home Depot of women’s accessories.”

A $30 minimum purchase is required, but Moon says that at his prices, $30 is “a lot of loot.” Customers often pool their purchases.

“ It can get kind of crazy,” Moon says. “A lot of the time women come looking for something unique so they can appear to be the first to find the new hot item.”

Because of the store’s huge influx of customers, other retailers have moved into the neighborhood, forming a thriving shopping district with more than 100 wholesale and retail shops.

And these new retailers have crowded out many of the adult industry stores that once dominated the area.

The retailers and shoppers are also attracting more police and safety patrols to the area.

“Our success showed others that they could succeed here, and we’ve attracted not just retailers, but restaurants and grocery stores,” Moon says.

Family business
But while the store may have far-reaching impact, it was always intended to be just about family.

In high school and during his days at UNT, Moon stayed close to home to work for his dad.

“I’d always go home on the weekends to work or go by after class — always putting in at least 30 hours each week,” he says. “But everybody in the family worked to keep the store going.”

Moon now shares the business with his younger brother, and his sister and parents are still active in the business as well.

He says the best part of all this success is that it keeps growing. Next to the women’s accessories store is a luggage store, carrying name-brand luggage such as Samsonite, Atlantic and Swiss Army.

The Moon family also has a store in the Dallas suburb of Frisco.

And all of this came from the power of shopping.

UNT News Service Phone Number: (940) 565-2108