A shop of their own for $10 a month

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A shop of their own for $10 a month


Young entrepreneurs who have set up shop at the Youth Store celebrate its one-year anniversary in Suncheon, South Jeolla, on March 31. [JANG JEONG-PIL]

Inside a shoddy warehouse near Suncheon Station in South Jeolla, young Koreans are busy working on their business ideas.

Called the Youth Store, the two-story building provides a space for people to set up shop and test their idea for just 10,000 won ($9.50) a month over a two-year period.

“Most store owners at the warehouse make 2.5 to 3 million won a month,” the warehouse’s manager, Kang Sin-woo, said.

People between the ages of 19 and 39 can apply for a shot at opening their own store and do not need to pay any form of deposit.

Unlike its outside appearance, the 80-year-old space provides a range of hip refreshments, from stir-fried ice cream to garlic butter shrimp and sushi. There are 12 other food and beverage stalls selling inventive dishes and seven accessory shops that visitors can peruse.

The space launched last February and provides aspiring entrepreneurs with education on marketing, accounting, taxes, advertising and security management.

From an open studio to an event stage and “meeting cube” where they can hold conferences in the center of the warehouse, young entrepreneurs are encouraged to get creative and experiment with new business ideas.

With its prime location near hotels and parking lots, the Youth Store has had about 300,000 visitors in its first year since opening. Its appeal is not limited to its low rent and distinct shops. It also offers concerts and lectures by big names in their respective fields where they talk about their experience, failures and path to success once a month.

Last month, popular Korean comedian Yoo Byung-jae, who recently released a Netflix comedy special, gave a talk at the warehouse titled “Failure Concert.” Over 1,000 people showed up, raising more interest in the store.

Other speakers have included Hong Seok-cheon, an openly gay television personality and restaurant owner, and Joo Ho-min, the comic artist behind “Along with the Gods.” On Wednesday, Kim Tae-ho, producer of the popular variety show “Infinite Challenge,” is scheduled to lead a four-day conference.

Since its opening, about 127 cultural events and performances have been held in the space. Starting April 28, the store plans to hold youth concerts and festivals every Saturday at 6 p.m.

“It is a dream for everyone who works at the Youth Store to create a supportive atmosphere to practice their business, gain experience and carry out the culture they’ve imagined, all at the same time,” Kang said.

The space is open every day from 12 p.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesdays to Thursdays. On Fridays and Saturdays, it is open until 11 p.m. It is closed on Sundays.

BY CHOI KYUNG-HO, LAURA SONG [song.hankyul@joongang.co.kr]
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