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Sam Moon Madness by Rufus Coleman
Winter 2002      


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Sam Moon Madness


Sam Moon (’89) is a true believer in the power of shopping.

He’s made his fortune from it, and his Korean father built his American dream with it. Since the Moon family opened up for business nearly 20 years ago, they have helped transform a decaying Dallas neighborhood into a booming and trendy shopping district.

  Sam Moon  

“It’s amazing how much has happened in just 10 years,” Sam says, referring to the changes in the family business since he took over from his 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 especially Saturdays, swarms of shoppers come to the outlet for the latest in expensive-looking jewelry and handbags minus the designer labels and high-dollar costs.

Customers aren’t just coming from the Dallas-Fort Worth area; many regularly make the pilgrimage from Oklahoma, Louisiana and East Texas.

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

Going public

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

Originally, David Moon opened the store in 1984 as a wholesaler to local retailers. Sam took over the business five years later after graduating from North Texas with a bachelor’s degree in marketing and soon realized there was a huge market for selling directly to the public.

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

Acting as a wholesaler to retailers, the store makes a profit through the large size of the orders. It still serves retailers, but it opened to the general public in 1992, and the results have been phenomenal — as the parking lot shows, says Moon.

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

The company draws some of the same class of customers who typically shop at Neiman Marcus with a name that many say is becoming just as venerable.

Veering from their traditionally stylish regalia for the mall, these customers come dressed in 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. Sam has been known to call his store the “Home Depot of women’s accessories.”

A $30 minimum purchase is required, but at Moon’s prices that is “a lot of loot,” he says. 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 as well.

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

There are also plans to open a store in Frisco next year.

And all of this came from the power of shopping.

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