“Have you seen this? It’s a whole new world.”
A picture flew through KakaoTalk. It was a midsummer dawn scene on Apgujeong Rodeo Street. There were so many people in the photo that the time period was questionable. A junior in his late 30s, who sent the Kakao Talk, couldn’t hide his surprise, saying, “I think Apgujeong has really resurrected.”
Apgujeong, there was a time when the name alone made my heart flutter. To the writer who came up from the countryside and entered a university in Seoul in 1993, the three-syllable word brought extreme emotions of envy and contempt at the same time. In the year when the first civilian government in constitutional history was established, Apgujeong was a kind of cultural liberation zone. At the same time, as new generation and era regulations such as ‘X Generation’ and postmodernism came out, Apgujeong in the middle of Gangnam was lit up with various cultural baptisms.
Apgujeong commercial area revived by locals
Did I say fifty years old? The love affair in Apgujeong did not last long. In October 2004, the start of construction at Apgujeong Rodeo Station, a subway station on the Bundang Line, started. The noise and dust caused by the construction and frequent traffic congestion caused people to stop visiting. Apgujeong began to lose its vigor as young merchants moved to nearby Garosu-gil in Sinsa-dong, Itaewon, and Yeonnam-dong due to a surge in rents. The rent on the main street in Apgujeong was 120 million won per 3.3 square meters in 2009, and it has been going downhill all the way.
The Apgujeong Rodeo commercial district, which has been in stagnation for over 10 years, is recently firing a signal of revival. According to BC Card, the sales growth rate of Apgujeong Rodeo commercial area in the first half of this year (compared to the same period last year) was 8.2%, exceeding the national average (7.55%). While the proportion of people in their 20s (19.3%) and 30s (33.4%) is high, it is characterized by frequent visits by those in their 40s (20.1%) and 50s (15.3%). In the Seongsu business district, there are relatively many people in their 20s (26.4%) and few people in their 40s (17.1%).
Distribution and commercial area experts point to the totality of high-end food, clothing and shelter culture as a factor in the resurgence of Apgujeong Rodeo. Beyond food such as restaurants and cafes, luxury fashion and high-quality living contents are gathered in one place. Here, analysis comes out that the branding strategy that utilizes the space led by Apgujeong locals, including GFFG CEO Lee Jun-beom, and the change in the Seoul commercial district map due to Corona 19 are leading the prosperity of the Apgujeong Rodeo commercial district.
Café Noted is the number one contributor to increasing the level of attention on Apgujeong Rodeo. Aiming at the younger generation who are looking for ‘hot spots’ with a high-level branding strategy using friendly characters, the company maximized its attraction by creating a photo-taking space. An official from the restaurant industry said, “The core of the commercial district is food, but in the past, taste was the center, but space is more important than taste these days.” The so-called ‘occupants’ time’ places can survive longer.
In addition to space, Noted’s own mystic strategy was also effective. Despite the word of mouth, it did not expand the number of stores, further igniting the curiosity of consumers. Although large retailers such as department stores have tried several times, it is part of this mysticism that it only entered the Galleria Department Store, which is no different than the lord of the Apgujeong and Cheongdam areas.
As GFFG, which operates Noted, creates other types of restaurant brands such as Hojokban and Downtowner, and other founders from Apgujeong who shared the will with GFFG CEO Jun-beom Lee, the Apgujeong Rodeo commercial area is a kind of ‘food and beverage cluster’. ‘ began to emerge. An official from a real estate company near Apgujeong Rodeo Station said, “With the completion of Apgujeong Rodeo Station in 2012, traffic jams have been relieved to some extent, and the rent has also decreased relative to the long-term stagnation. Famous chefs are moving their nests to Apgujeong.”
As for the inflow of visitors, Seongsu is 3-4 times that of Apgujeong Rodeo.
The importance of taste and space can be seen by looking at the rapid growth of the Seongsu commercial district. According to Rawplat, a startup specializing in offline location data, the number of visitors to Apgujeong Rodeo during the daytime in July is between 1,000 and 1900. At night, there are 700-1500 people. Although it is not a number that represents the total number of visitors to the relevant commercial area, it is a count of only the mobile signals measured by Low Flat, but if you look at the visitors to the Seongsu commercial area on the same basis, the difference is clear. In the Seongsu commercial district, there were days when the maximum number of visitors exceeded 8,000 in July.
BC Card big data analysis also showed that Seongsu overwhelms Apgujeong Rodeo. The sales growth rate in the first half of this year was 16.4%, twice that of Apgujeong Rodeo (8.2%). In response, a BC Card official said, “In Seongsu, the proportion of restaurants is overwhelmingly high at 60.8% compared to other commercial districts. In the Apgujeong Rodeo commercial district, the proportion of general restaurants is only 16.4%. It is characteristic that medical institutions such as plastic surgery account for 21%. “Apgujeong Rodeo is a key visitor to Apgujeong Rodeo,” a retail industry official explained.
In terms of visitor inflow alone, it lags behind the Seongsu commercial district, but it can be inferred that the Apgujeong Rodeo commercial district may have greater power in terms of the length of stay and spending of consumers. In the Cheongdam-dong area including Apgujeong, high-priced luxury brands are lined up around the Galleria Department Store. A Galleria official explained, “During the 1988 Seoul Olympics, a large number of duty-free products were introduced to attract foreign tourists, and after the event, these overseas brands gathered around Apgujeong and Cheongdam-dong, including Galleria.”
“Commercial area of food, clothing and stock is advantageous for long-term survival”
10 Corso Como, a living select shop run by Samsung C&T, is also playing a role in the revival of the Apgujeong Rodeo commercial district. It is a place where you can find everything from furniture, cushions, lighting, and other interior items to small items such as toys containing global trends.
The revival of the Apgujeong Rodeo commercial district has great implications for urban regeneration. It is difficult to compare the place that was still the yolk land of Seoul at the time of the recession with the original downtown area, but it is worth referring to as a benchmarking model for what the commercial district needs to revive. The main check points are young entrepreneurs with a love for the region, a high-level branding strategy to publicize their activities, and the gathering of food, clothing, and shelter culture that encompasses fashion and living in addition to gourmet and cafes.
By Park Dong-hwi, staff reporter [email protected]