Cr. Ericka P.

The BTS POP-UP: SPACE OF BTS is now open to ARMY living and visiting Los Angeles! Situated on Melrose amongst the other local shops, the pop-up opened officially on May 5 to a rushing crowd of fans grabbing exclusive merch specifically chosen for the LA location. K-Pop Concerts was able to get the exclusive scoop on opening day while the first group of ARMYs came in to purchase their items. 

The pop-up had much success in other cities including London, Berlin, Dubai, and New York, and this one wasn’t any different. It was perfect timing to have the pop-up open days before SUGA has his first of three tour stops in Los Angeles.

The exterior was a bright lilac color. Upon stepping in, one would be flooded with merch, stretching wall-to-wall, with racks displaying BTS-related clothing for customers to touch and grab from the bins below. Each customer was given an hour to shop before making their way toward the register.

The range of BTS products was incredibly vast, ranging from last year’s sold-out Dalmajung merchandise with the members in hanboks to the last V brooch boxes from the highly coveted MADE BY BTS collection. It wasn’t surprising to see fans giving advice to one another as they pick which items to purchase and which ones to leave behind as one customer had a tower of merchandise in their arms ready for checkout.  

K-Pop Concerts was able to snag a one-on-one interview with Sang Cho, the chief operating officer of KAI Media who was present with us for opening day. 

This interview was condensed and edited for clarity.

KPC: Can you tell me more about the inspiration behind the design of this pop-up store?

Sang Cho: We wanted to bring everything that the group has done over the last few years. As they go off on [doing their] solo careers and military services, we just wanted to have a celebration of what they’ve accomplished, and also bring items and merchandise and things that were not available in this market. The real inspiration is the celebration of the group and their accomplishments.

KPC: How long is this pop-up going to be open for? Are there any special events or promotions happening during that time?

Sang Cho: May 5 to June 30. It runs every day until then. We will probably have a surprise event [on or] around their 10-year anniversary on June 13. 

KPC: How did you end up choosing this location in Melrose? There’s another pop-up in Santa Monica, so why not do it next door? 

Sang Cho: The Santa Monica one, from what I understand, is more of an exhibit, almost like a museum experience. So for us, we want [the pop-up] to be more of a retail experience where all the other shopping experiences are: Melrose, La Brea, and Fairfax are good, cool, and known for shopping experiences and cool pop-ups. So we found a great location here. And that’s how we ended up here. 

KPC: Can you walk us through how the process of coming into the store and how to purchase items? 

Sang Cho: The best is to go to thepopupcloud.com and make an appointment. You can make one reservation each day for two people, but you can make multiple reservations over a period of time. Check-in [is] no earlier than 30 minutes before your time slot because there’s gonna be a line and the space is fairly limited. But once you’re in, you have an hour to tour the store to get all the merchandise and checkout with whatever you want to purchase. If you go over a little bit, I think that’d be fine.

KPC: As you know, the SUGA concerts are actually going to be next week. How are you guys going to be celebrating his concert tour? I heard that you guys are doing some sort of afterparty.

Sang Cho: We are running this on behalf of HYBE and as a partner, we have our own retail presence here nearby on Beverly Boulevard at hello82 LA. What we’re having is what we’re calling an “afterparty” which runs at the same time as the BTS pop-up store hours. 

Fans who stopped by [the pop-up store] and got the BTS goods can go join our afterparty experience where we have local BTS fans and vendors selling their goods and also PC (photocard) trading, and all the other community activities they can do. With SUGA, we’ll have a special SUGA Day at hello82, and this store will probably end up accentuating and highlighting SUGA merchandise and having it front and center.

KPC: Do you have anything to say to BTS ARMY in terms of this pop-up?

Sang Cho: For us, it’s not so much about the purchase, but it’s all about the experience. […] I always feel like when you’re here with your ARMY friends, going through the process together looking at items. My wife is an official ARMY member, so she’s going to come over the weekend. You can get all this stuff online, but it’s always more different and more exciting when you’re here in person.

These are physical goods. And these are not stuff that you need to get from Amazon or that you just have to use every day. It’s these things that you treasure and, you know, you hold dear to your heart because you love the group. I think the aspect of the community and the fandom is probably just as important as following the group. So that’s why we feel like these pop-up experiences, and our after-party or even the exhibition in Santa Monica, are things that fans should try to experience while they’re here. Because it’s limited time!

Major thanks to Sang Cho for interviewing with K-Pop Concerts and providing more information regarding the pop-up. The pop-up will run until June 30, so come before it ends!

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