SEOUL, South Korea – While moving to Korea opens up myriad food options, it also closes down quite a few. Query the typical expat on what they miss most about home and you’ll likely find several food items on the list. Be it their favorite deli meats, bakery items, Reeses Peanut Butter Cups or seasonal selections such as turkey dinner with all the fixings.
Thanks to Kip Richardson, an entrepreneurial-minded California native who’s lived in Korea for over two decades, the list of expat longings has grown markedly shorter –and yes, that includes the Reeses.
Richardson, along with a wine importer, a professional baker and a cheese importer, founded the highly popular deli and food store, High Street Market in Seoul in 2011 and business has been booming ever since. And for many expats within traveling distance of High Street’s excellent selection of western foods, both homemade in-house and imported, life in Korea has never been the same.
After graduating with an MBA from the Thunderbird School of Management, Richardson was immediately drawn to the food industry following his studies.
My professional background has been entirely food focused since graduation, says Richardson.
During much of his 20+ years living on the peninsula, there simply wasn’t an excess of opportunity to pursue his true love until the Korean government finally opened the door to foreign food exports.
The opening up of the import foods market in Korea was a huge inspiration to open High Street, says Richardson. Suddenly nearly everything was allowed to be imported and, although import taxes are still extremely high in Korea, there is very little we can’t find anymore.
For those of you reading this and considering making a trek to Korea’s capital city to enjoy High Street’s excellent selections of breads, cheeses, deli meats and wide selection of other items you wouldn’t expect to see on Korean shelves, save your money. For 3,000 KRW, High Street Market will deliver it all to you.
The decision to ship their imported and in-house produced items came shortly after High Street Market emerged as the toast of the expat community in Seoul. And while expat tastes are their primary focus, Koreans soon caught wind of what Richardson and his partners were doing and High Street’s popularity exploded.
Much like a number of the items offered, the growth of the Korean customer base was purely organic, says Richardson.
From the beginning until now, we have focused strictly on the expat market and have never spent any time wooing the locals. Despite that, however, High Street has been the backdrop for a number of Korean TV shows, the subject of many Korean magazine articles and we’ve been featured in hundreds of Korean blogs. We’re even featured in a music video!
From there it was only logical to establish High Street online.
We started our online sales, in earnest, last year and we can deliver anywhere in Korea, he says, adding, In-store sales still dominate, but our online purchases are growing rapidly.
When Richardson says they can deliver anywhere, he’s not kidding.
Once in awhile we’ll get an order from an island way out there like Jindo, for example, way down on the southwest tip of the peninsula, or a teacher will make an order from way out in the middle of nowhere in a country town where there is literally nothing around.
So what are expats craving for most when they order from High Street?
Our most popular delivery items would definitely have to be our meats, says Richardson. The fact that people can get high quality western style deli meats, steaks and sausages is something that appeals to a lot of foreigners and Koreans as well.
That sounds about right, who doesn’t miss opening the refrigerator back home and pulling out a package of thinly sliced pastrami or roast beef to pile high on a couple slices of good bread?
But why just settle for that?
Before starting High Street I ran and still run a meat importing company. So not only can we deliver people’s favorite deli meat selections, but we also feature rare cuts of meat you don’t often see on this side of the world, like venison, Osso Buco, rack of lamb, and veal chops.
If meats not your thing, High Street has a great selection for vegans and vegetarians as well.
A lot of people are usually surprised that we have a wide selection of gluten-free vegan foods all made and cooked in-house.
And remember that highly missed turkey dinner with all the fixings mentioned earlier? High Street has got that too.
You can visit High Street Market online at www.highstreet.co.kr
High Street featured prominently in Korean group Clazziquai’s video
High Street Market is a supporter of Haps Magazine.