Why Do Korean Beauty Supply Stores Outnumber Black Owned Ones?

Do you seek out black owned BSS stores

This is an issue that has been irritating me to the core. OK, let me refrain from being hostile. This is an issue that has been irritating me for years! Oh well, I tried, I tried but my heart isn’t in it because it’s a problem that needs to be fixed and I think that the Natural Hair Movement (NHM) is one of the ways to change that.

What do I mean? Well, let’s face it…black women, can you find a Beauty Supply Store in America that isn’t owned by Koreans?

By the time I was living in New Orleans and going to college, weaves were big business and you couldn’t pass a block without seeing an ultra-big Beauty Supply Store in the shopping center.

Now, am I equating the BSS with weaves? Yea, kinda, because I can’t remember that many stores being around until weaves got big. I also can’t remember being in a BSS without Koreans running and owning it either.

Now, I have nothing against Korean’s and their entrepreneurial spirit but I do have a problem with them selling every product known to black women for our hair when there are barely any black owned beauty stores.

IT’S OUR HAIR!!! I know we corner the market on the salons and hair stylists that do our hair but we have too many other areas of marketing that we fail to control.

There are the hair products, the added hair, the accessories and even hair trends. We have the numbers and the power but let me slow down before I have people riled up talking about a revolution. I’m just wondering why we don’t monopolize this market and have the majority of beauty supply stores that carry the products we use for our hair.

Now, I’ve heard a few reasons as to why Koreans are owning and running these shops where we find our hair products. One reason being Koreans can get loans from prominently white banks that will not often lend to blacks.

I have heard of banking or lending discrimination and I’m willing to believe at least some of that is true but for the vast majority I know there has to be a deeper explanation.

Sally’s Beauty Supply is the largest chain in America with over 2,300 stores but if you add all the Korean BSS’s together you get three times that many! Scary but true.

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About Sabrina Perkins

Hello all, I'm Sabrina. I'm a freelance writer and a full-time blogger at my site, http://www.seriouslynatural.org/ where the focus is on Natural hair, beauty and style. I became natural 8 years ago at the tender age of 35 and love sharing my ups and downs as I master this thing called natural hair. Married, with two kids (one being a natural herself) gives me a different perspective on our hair and why I love being natural. I want healthy hair, long hair and sexy hair! I'm an older natural---that's right---I'm grown and sexy, and I have much to share. I love fashion too and recently opened a clothing shop for beautiful black women at www.seriouslynatural.spreadshirt.com

About Sabrina Perkins

Hello all, I'm Sabrina. I'm a freelance writer and a full-time blogger at my site, http://www.seriouslynatural.org/ where the focus is on Natural hair, beauty and style. I became natural 8 years ago at the tender age of 35 and love sharing my ups and downs as I master this thing called natural hair. Married, with two kids (one being a natural herself) gives me a different perspective on our hair and why I love being natural. I want healthy hair, long hair and sexy hair! I'm an older natural---that's right---I'm grown and sexy, and I have much to share. I love fashion too and recently opened a clothing shop for beautiful black women at www.seriouslynatural.spreadshirt.com


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  1. Tiffany Murphy
    Tiffany Murphy

    Besides supremacy issues blk ppl still have to fight against today…the Korea stores seem to have a bigger variety, I would have to drive at least 1hr away to get to a blk owned beauty supply store that would have everything I needed and a good selection of options too! It’s sad!

    1. Ruth

      I agree. Most black people still have a problem supporting each other. As a people we tend to think “we” should get a discount because “we” are supporting each other. Unless that is something we” do in other stores, “we” shouldn’t do that in “our” stores. In addition to that thought process, I’ve seen “our” people charged more for a product just because of the color of our skin causing us to raise the in-store prices to cover our shipping costs. It’s like a catch 22 – we want to own stores catering to us but society and our own people make it a little difficult.

      1. Chantal McKelton

        Discounts will NEVER grow a business, and “we” only seem to expect continuous discounts from our own people. As someone who has tried and failed several times to grow my business, that really ticks me off. No matter what price I set, it’s always “too high!” for my own people. My hookup-happy friends don’t care that they’re eating away at my profit margin, which I need to feed my family. The mentality is clear; my people still don’t believe that I deserve to make a profit, but they will line Korean (and European) pockets without the slightest argument! How about hooking ME up by paying the price that I set?

      2. Mayola Welborn

        I agree with your statement. I am a designer of one of a kind clothing and jewelry!!! I work harder on average than people that do the same thing of another ethnicity. I am Always asked to lower my prices and they are Very reasonable sometimes dresses under forty dollars, one of a kind and well put together. Truth, we Cannot survive and its our own that does it. Sisters will see my earrings and ask me to lower costs and then they will go to Claire’s or Spencer’s and pay the same amount for a mass produced article of jewelry…smh! It can be disheartening, but I won’t give up!!! I’m glad to know that they are people like you who see this and speak up about it. Thank You for your comment!!! I wish you Blessings Up Always…stay focused and think positive even when it just doesn’t pan out. One day it will, I have to believe that!!! ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥

  2. Meco Harris
    Meco Harris

    I look for product variety, price, customer service, knowledge, and shopping experience …I don’t care who owns it

    1. Sabrina Perkins Post author

      I hear you but I do wish more black people had the opportunities to own more stores and to keep our buying dollars within our community. Thanks for sharing.

      1. Karisha

        I agree that there are few black own beauty supplies stores. There’s a lot of underlying issues when it comes to this topic. There’s also a lot of questions to accompany this. One thing you can be sure of that it all comes down to the dollar bill. Money talks period. Think about it. If we as a people want to establish and grow business, how come we just don’t cater to our people. Think of all the African-Americans who manufacture natural hair products. How come they just don’t supply their hair products to black retailers only…because of MONEY. They know that the only way they’ll succeed at growing their business is to mass market. Also, I’ve been to a Black-owned BBS. The only thing that was discouraging about it was the limited selection of products and high prices. It simply a matter of supply and demand. Black woman are in need of hair care products and unfortunately Black own BBS don’t have the resources in order to meet the demand, so Black woman flock to Korean owned BBS. Koreans are unfortunately has the means to get the products Black woman want. In the end, we need to simply come together as a people and support our own. Quite frankly, if Black own BBS had the same connections as that of Koreans, there would be some SERIOUS competition in the hair care business.

  3. Kai Grayson
    Kai Grayson

    I agree w/Mika. ALL of the black (African) owned beauty supply stores that I’ve visited in Houston have very little to offer. Meanwhile, the Asian beauty supply has everything needed for your beauty needs. I would love to patronize my own as support, but “variety demands”.

    1. Sabrina Perkins Post author

      Actually no. I know what you are talking about but I didn’t watch the movie for various reasons. I am probably gonna have to break down and watch it.

      1. Dante

        Chris Rocks “Good Hair” Really opened my eyes and honestly one of the many reason I went natural, and there was one scene that really made me say no more perms, all I’m going to say is that there was a piece of chicken involved..

        Any way it disturbs me how people who are from other countries can make money and create there own business but we can’t. You said it right they are taking away our culture.

    1. Sabrina Perkins Post author

      They probably cannot get the lower prices like their Korean counterparts. We can support them because that’s keeping our buying dollars within our community.

      1. Chantal McKelton

        You’ve hit a very important point–the one I would love to make without sounding like I hate my own people. The truth is that we–Black people–don’t support our own as much as other races do. Pardon me for sounding angry, but it’s a very touchy subject, and I take it personally. I can’t tell you how many times I have tried to start my business, and the most flak I get about my supply and especially my prices come from my own people. “Mary Sue” and “Ming Lee” don’t have to deal with “That’s too high!”, and “Come on, hook me up!” We need to stop being crabs in a barrel and support our own people, without making the same tired excuses. When you put money into the business, the business can afford better supply and variety. Help your people help you.

    2. DLB

      All of the stores prices are high, even the Korean or any other ethnic group that sells Black oriented products. People can spend money when they want to spend money. It’s just an excuse not to support.

    1. Patrice

      It’s not that we don’t have the connections, it’s that the Koreans have made it so the sellers won’t sell to black business owners. It’s a very calculated move to keep us out of our own hair business.

        1. Patrice

          It’s what I discovered through research months ago. There is an organization that was formed to help “us” open beauty supply stores and break through the wall of “no’s” when a black store owner goes to buy hair. I wish I remembered the name of the organization.

          1. Octavia Hutchinson

            Think its called BOBSA
            Black Owned Beauty Supply Association. My Pure Remy the company I am a hsir distributor in just told us about it on the last conference call.

        2. Eleanor Wiltshire

          Very insightful article Sabrina!
          Years ago (think 1959-1967) My parents had a small grocery store. The store was a hub for the community, women came in and had coffee, talked to each other about problems, exchanged recipes, gossiped, and of course shopped.

          My parents allowed those less fortunate to purchase on credit and pay as they go. This lasted until the first Koreans moved into our neighborhood. Their store was very well stocked, more so than my parents store ( who could not get the credit Koreans were allowed at the banks).

          Needless to say, soon my parents customers would walk right past my parents store, go to the Korean store, walk back past my parents store with BIG bags of groceries,( still owing my parents credit!!!) The Koreans had successfully shut my parents down, despite the strong community ties that were formed over the years with my parents.

          My mother STILL has the Black credit book she kept accounts in. All remain UNPAID. To be honest, I think we all know Black Folks rarely stick together. EVERY other group does and that’s why they succeed as a group. They can come over here, not speak the language, not socialize outside their group, and wind up wealthy.

          This is ashamed!!! Black folks really need to get it together and realize. NO ONE HELPS those who don’t HELP THEMSELVES. No one LOVE those who don’t LOVE THEMSELVES!!!


          1. LaDonna

            Eleanor, I very much relate to your story. I am from the same generation as you. I remember going to the store in my community; and my family bought on credit as well (only we made sure the bill was paid). I amazes me how we complain about how prices are higher in a black owned store. Before I go off on a long, drawn out tangent, I just want to say that if your store was in my community I would have supported it. Never mind that your bread may have been 20 cent more than the national chain. The national chain would never give me anything on credit just to get me and my family over the hump. Any you can bet your last bottom dollar that 20 cent more for a loaf of bread doesn’t compare to a growling stomach.

          2. Jay

            WOW!! Now your mother has a real jewel she should be writing about or have written and edited “Unpaid Grocery Debt” or “Remaining Balance Due” or something. What a truly sad and real situation if I have heard any in my 40yrs. By the way I hardly ever EVER leave posts for any site or reason but this one my fingers and mind I have placed the blame. You tell your mother, if possible, to hang on to that sad reminder and keep it close. God’s blessings and favor upon everyone!!

      1. Khaya

        This is very true, I live in the United Kingdom and South East Asians (mainly Indians and Pakistani’s) own the majority of Black Hair shops. I hate going into the shops as they guard the shop as if they are prison guards watching over prisoners in a yard- they have workers strategically placed in every corner of the shop, they have security cameras and mirrors covering all areas of the shop also. They even have the nerve to follow you sometimes, I hate that they hate us (By showing us such disdain by assuming we are all thieves yet LOVE our money). So many black people overlook this fact, they don’t see the bigger picture, they are more concerned with the price, getting that product for £3.99 instead of £5.99 (I get this as I am guilty of this myself). However we should care about this, the black hair industry generates millions of pounds in the UK, I can only assume that this is far greater in the US, why should we not be profiting from an industry that predominately caters to US. The lack of unity and faith in the black community is what in my opinion holds us back, ‘United we stand Divided we fall’. South east Asian people understand this as they are overall quite a close knit community and help and support each other in business and in other areas and are in doing much better financially than African-Caribbean people in this country. Communities that do well socially and economically are respected even though they may still be subjected to racism and discrimination.

        1. 3d2002

          Lord God Khaya, you just said a mouth full and I enjoy every piece of it. Women can cuss out LaKeisha like nobody’s business for shorting them on a rib tip platter but let them go into one of those Korean Beauty Supply stores, they just as mild and meek and subject themselves to be ridiculed like they are on a slave platform, being followed around, talked about by those Koreans in their language, putting them on a showcase, trying to find the right wig for them and telling them it’s pretty and nice when all the while it looks like a damp dog and don’t talk about the return policy, you buy, you buy….that’s it, don’t come back because we got your money now so skedaddle outta here until you come back with more money to buy new hair. I pray our sistas wake up and realize we are just pawns in this hair game and we are the losing pieces. If anyone knows of any Black own BSS, please pass on the information.

  4. Donna Germany
    Donna Germany

    I don’t even know if there is a black owned beauty supply store here in a Oakland anymore. There used to be one but he NEVER had any inventory…you want to support black owned businesses but they make it hard when they don’t have any products to buy!!!

  5. Martine Galliotte
    Martine Galliotte

    It depends on where im at or what I need at the time. Not too many black owned beauty supplies stores where I live.

  6. Ashleiigh Sanz
    Ashleiigh Sanz

    I wouldn’t care if a Australian owned it. I look for great customer service, variety of products, employee knowledge, and preferably locally owned.

  7. Laquicia Dinish
    Laquicia Dinish

    because they have connections on the goods, and they know the Black hair care stores is were the money at.

  8. Britney Smith
    Britney Smith

    Here in louisville, ky. I’ve only ran across one black owned hair store and they really don’t carry natural hair products like the other stores do that are not black owned.

    1. Lucky

      I know exactly what you mean. I’m in Louisville too and the only non-Korean beauty shops around here is Sally’s and believe me, Sally is NOT Black! You don’t see the Korean owned shops in the wealthier sections of the city, Only the lower-middle to low income areas, but then again it’s no secret that Black women spend more money on hair products than any other ethnicity, so they go where the money is. They hate us but they need us. I haven’t stepped in a Korean BSS in 5 years and I don’t think I ever will again.

  9. Ella Alexander
    Ella Alexander

    Not only variety demands…but prices….I have been in many black owned businesses. ..their prices are ridiculous! ! And we never want to cut eachother any discounts…you got to give a little to get a little! !

  10. Cheryl Williams
    Cheryl Williams

    Unfortunately it is still a big struggle for African American to get loans like that ,it’s easier for foreigners to get business loans!

  11. Denise N Raymond Sanders
    Denise N Raymond Sanders

    I have a black owned not too far from me…I don’t mind the drive, but don’t go bcuz they ither are out of the products I need (don’t purchase enough stock) or they don’t carry my products I buy (not enough variety)!

  12. Tashi Patton
    Tashi Patton

    It might b bcuz its easier to get loans from the banks for asians…i can barely get tha homie to pau me back my 20 bucks

  13. Sharetta Howard
    Sharetta Howard

    Foreigners get government grants and different monies that allow them to have successful businesses. They truly are awarded for becoming citizens as where blacks have to spend more and work more just to start a business let alone invest in having the supplies.

  14. Milicent Gadgetgeek White
    Milicent Gadgetgeek White

    I make my own natural products for my locs. I shop at Sally beauty supply, Walmart, drugstore.com and as a last resort Asian-owned beauty store if I can’t wait or find it anywhere else.

  15. Giana Marshay
    Giana Marshay

    I don’t even know any black owned in Cleveland and don’t care to be honest I’m always searching for a deal black owned shops back in ny where I’m from cost entirely too much

  16. Jamillah Davis
    Jamillah Davis

    Of course they outnumber black-owned bss’s! there’s a black owned on near my house and their prices are ridiculously more than the other non-black owned ones in my area. I refuse to go to a black owned business or any business w/ higher prices when I can go get what I need cheaper.

  17. MiMi Moore
    MiMi Moore

    In the past I would seek out black owned stores, but their prices would be much higher than a Korean or Arabic owned beauty store. So I don’t care who owns it as long as I can find what I’m looking for at a fair price.

  18. Brandi Wake
    Brandi Wake

    It’s the PRICES. nothing more, nothing less. I want to be more supportive of black businesses but 9 times out of 10, the same product will either not be in stock or higher. The exception is Wal-Mart or Target. But I def don’t patronize Korean beauty suppliers half as much since returning natural.

  19. Tonya Martin
    Tonya Martin

    These conments tho….smh. Fact is, we can’t get loans like foreigners can! They get interest FREE visas and they use that to start a business, then they get their products cheap from overseas so of course their prices will be cheaper!! People always want a “hook-up” but don’t know the meaning of profit/loss, income statements, markups, etc etc. This country made it too easy for aliens to get rich! I knew people that had beauty supply stores in the DFW area, those Asians came through and bought an old Target store and ran them out of business! THEY….stick together, whereas we DON’T! And that will ALWAYS be our downfall as a people!

  20. Lori A. Crafter
    Lori A. Crafter

    They out number black owned businesses because we have got to be some of the most selfish folks on earth! We don’t support each other, we’re always thinking somebody is trying to get over on us! These folks stick together, support each other whether they know each other personally or not! Black folks need to take heed!

  21. Collene McIntosh Fristoe
    Collene McIntosh Fristoe

    Asian’s control the black hair market making it hard for black owners to carry and order various products, The manuals in which you order from are written in there language (Korean) making the process even more difficult for black owners to keep up with supply and demand while eliminating the competition at the same time causing black owners to over price the limited product’s they receive to stay in business… Fact: They will not spend there money with you… that’s the truth drink it!!! Fact: You making the richer, that’s why your only option is them…

  22. Cyrenthia Anderson
    Cyrenthia Anderson

    I say this all the time. We are the largest hair product consumer and the least represented in the business. #boom

  23. Beverly TruelyBlessed Conover
    Beverly TruelyBlessed Conover

    When i go into a black owned beauty shop,the first thing they do is look me down and try to sell me some non quality hair and /or accessories!!! Get mad when you don’t buy for high price, and once you leave store cussed you out and refuse to serve you again in near future!!!! Unprofessional!!!!

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