HOUSE OF THE RISING SUN
My brothers and I run the business,” says Chuck Lim, vice president of sales and marketing at Reborn Lifestyle in Garden Grove, Calif. Though Lim and his family have been living in the United States for more than 30 years, Reborn, an appliance and electronics retailer with a considerable Asian customer base, has been in business for a little under five.
”We’re 30 miles from downtown L.A.,” says Lim. “We have a rather big Asian community here. And we have our niche market, our ethnic market.” Lim says Reborn is like Circuit City for a lot of Asian immigrants. “We have 30,000 square feet of space and we carry everything from appliances to TVs.” Lim and his brothers wanted to create a retail space where fellow Asians would feel welcome to shop, ask questions and eventually be able to choose the right products to suit their lifestyles. Asian buying power has the second fastest projected rate of growth behind Hispanics, according to the University of Georgia’s Selig Center for Economic Growth in Athens, Ga. It will grow 434 percent by 2011. “Asian buying power is attaining critical mass in a growing number of states,” says Selig Center Director Jeff Humphries. California accounts for 33 percent of the nation’s consumer market.
For most of the five years that the store has been opened, Lim says it’s attracted 90 percent Vietnamese and Korean customers. As a result, Reborn hires staff fluent in these languages. “We speak their languages and they find it convenient,” says Lim. “If people don’t feel comfortable talking to someone, they won’t feel comfortable coming into the store.” Lim admits that while he’s lived in the States for 30 years and would welcome shopping just about anywhere, many of the newer immigrants “feel very shy. They feel more comfortable when we can be open and engage them in buying,” he says.