Inside SF's booming first K-pop store helping revitalize Sunset District

ByTim Johns KGO logo
Friday, January 19, 2024
Boom of SF's first K-pop store helping revitalize Sunset District
The success of San Francisco's first K-pop store Saranghello has gotten the attention of Mayor London Breed, and they have no plans to slow down.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- From the music to the singing to the dancing, step inside San Francisco's Saranghello and it's like being transported all the way to South Korea.

The store, located in the Sunset District, is the first and only K-pop store in the city.

"The great thing about K-pop is not just the music but also just the idols themselves, just how people are able to connect with the idols," said Kevin Teng.

Teng co-owns Saranghello along with his two best friends.

He says much of their merchandise is imported directly from Korea and can't be found in other K-pop stores around the country.

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Everything from the latest albums to photo cards of the hottest K-pop stars.

Since launching four years ago, Saranghello has grown from being just online to now its second brick-and-mortar location.

It's been so successful, that it's even gotten the attention of San Francisco Mayor London Breed. The mayor tweeted that the store has played a major role in revitalizing the nearby neighborhood after COVID by driving increased sales tax revenue.

Teng says it's the personal touch that makes all the difference.

"We're huge fans. We're genuine fans. And I think that genuineness and love and passion for K-culture in particular really resonates with a lot of people," he said.

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For many, this is more than just a store though.

That includes for Otto Homruen, who has been a customer for over two years.

"I made a lot of friends here," he said. "I've met a lot of staff and they've become my friends. I feel comfortable to come here and it feels like a safe space for me."

With business booming, Teng says Saranghello has no plans to slow down.

In the future, he and his friends say they hope to open even more stores.

"Our main focus this year is to build a much bigger community, make K-pop a lot more accessible here in the Bay Area and just continue to service the K-love," Teng said.

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