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Beauty supply shop looks to prosper in old Publix location

By Curt Yeomans

Tamika Kemp moved to Lovejoy from Richmond, Va., only two weeks ago, but she has already established herself as a regular customer at the U.S. Beauty Mart in Jonesboro.

Kemp, a hair stylist, has shopped at the 15,000-square-foot beauty supply store four times. She was there on Monday buying all kinds of supplies, ranging from shampoos, to flat irons, to hair dryers.

"I'm a beautician, so I come here a lot," Kemp said. "It's a one-stop beauty [supply] shop. You can come here and get everything."

The U.S. Beauty Mart opened at 7899 Tara Blvd., in Jonesboro, just before Thanksgiving of last year, said store manager Jin Cho. It is the second in a chain owned by Seoul, Korea native, Koo Pi Chung, according to Cho.

The manager said Chung opened the first U.S. Beauty Mart location in Albany, Ga., a little more than a decade ago, and there are plans to eventually open a third location, at a to-be-determined spot on the north side of the metropolitan Atlanta area, Cho said.

Cho said the store targets both beauticians, and every-day, non-beautician customers. He said, so far, the business is doing "OK," and "it could be better, but we're still in the process of setting it up."

While employees boast that the store sells more than 300 different types of wigs, and countless other products, Cho said the store's inventory is made up of 700 different items, including beauty supplies, clothing items, wigs, hair extensions, hair color solutions, shampoos, body butter, braid remover, mineral bath packs, du rags, hair sticks, scarves, hats, belts, hand bags, and jewelry.

"Since we're a new store, we're asking customers what they want, or what they need," Cho said. "If I can bring it in, I'll bring it in."

Jonesboro resident, Tosha Clay, said she likes the fact that the store meets the needs of the general community, as well as professional beauticians. Clay said she does some make-up art work on occasion, and she was buying make-up brushes on Monday. It was her second trip to the store.

"I like it because, in terms of variety and size, I can find almost anything," she said. "I come here, sometimes to buy things for work, and sometimes for myself."

The space the store is located in, was formerly occupied by a Publix grocery store, which closed in the spring of 2006. Cho said the real estate agent, who found the location for store owner Chung, told Chung the location had been vacant since Publix closed.

Cho said one of the attractive features of the location was its large size, and -- well -- its location. "This is the center of business in this area, and all around the county," he said. The store has, so far, attracted customers from as far away as McDonough, Decatur and Douglasville, the manager added.

Kemp said she discovered the store by just driving down Tara Boulevard with her mother one day. "I saw it as I was driving down the street," she said.

Chung, who speaks in Korean, and had to use Cho as his translator, said that after four months, he has come to like the people in the area. "The people are nice," said Chung, speaking through Cho. "There are kind people in this neighborhood."

Still, Cho said what happened to the location in the past, with the Publix leaving and the spot being vacant for years, does not matter anymore.

"It doesn't matter who was here before, or how long it was vacant," he said. "We're here to get the business going. With any kind of business, it should grow, and not just sit there."