By D Magazine | Originally Published in June 2009
Walk into the Sam Moon Trading Co. off Harry Hines Boulevard near the intersection of LBJ and I-35E on any given weekend, and prepare for bedlam. No, strike that. Walk into Sam Moon most any day of the week and experience bedlam.
As many as 3,000 shoppers pack Moon’s main retail store every Monday through Friday, a number that leaps to 7,000 on Saturdays (the store is closed Sundays). In addition to the individual shoppers, tour buses—12 to 24 deep—pull continuously into the store’s parking lot and engorge mainly female members of church groups, civic clubs, and assisted living communities from east, west, north, and south of Dallas, credit cards and cash in hand, eager to pounce on Moon’s latest deals.
What could Sam Moon Trading Dallas possibly sell to create such a frenzy? Ask your mom, your grandma, your wife, your wife’s best friend. They’ll tell you: Sam Moon sells the American dream.
Indeed, walking into its store is like entering the Midway at the State Fair of Texas. There’s color everywhere, in every hue, from shiny gold to neon rhinestone pink. Handbags in the latest colors, shapes, and styles line the bins, costing just $10 to $40; earrings in silver, sparkling rhinestone, beads, and semi-precious stone are priced as little as $2. Necklaces on chains, on leather, in gold, look chic and can be scooped up by the armful, with money left over to check out the luggage, home accessories, and furniture in the separate Sam Moon Home Décor Store next door.
Customers find they can look trendy without spending big bucks—most of the merchandise consists of designer “knockoffs” made in China—and it keeps them coming back for more. “I go there to find items that aren’t expensive, but could individualize an outfit,” says Dana Cobb, a Moon shopper from Richardson. “I usually lose the jewelry within days of wearing, but I don’t worry, because it didn’t set me back too much.”
“We cater to the soccer mom. That’s who I buy for,” says Sam Moon. “They’re spending their discretionary income. They want trendy but they don’t want to spend too much, and they’re looking for values.”
In the battered retail sector, Moon’s is a seemingly recession-proof formula, generating annual revenue of more than $50 million. While first-half same-store sales were down about 10 percent last year, sales in the second six months were up 11 percent. Through March of this year, Sam Moon says, the company is trending at a 15 percent annual increase for same-store sales.
Interestingly, the Sam Moon we’re talking about is probably not the man you think he is. The Sam Moon Group founder, chairman, and CEO is actually Sam Moon’s father—a 68-year-old man named David Moon. Sam, 41, is David’s first-born son and the company’s president and namesake. When David’s second son, Daniel, arrived, the name fit in a new way: Sam is similar to the Korean word for “three.” Thus stirred the beginnings of a family-owned business dynasty that David Moon envisions eventually as an American icon. “I want to see Sam Moon be a major department store in this country,” he says. “That is my desire.”
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