Sunday, June 03, 2018

High Street Market: gone for good?

A couple weeks ago, one of my coworkers told me he had passed by High Street Market in Itaewon and had seen that the store looked utterly empty, as if it had been cleared out. Because denial is one of the initial stages of grief, I wasn't quite ready to accept this information, so I resolved to see the store for myself. I did this yesterday, and sure enough, my coworker was right, as the following photos will attest (click on the first two to enlarge; the third photo is in its original* size). I'm still in denial, as you can imagine; High Street was the place for me to buy hard-to-find items like Italian sausage and other Western products that are considered specialties in Korea. I've never liked the inconvenience of having to travel to Itaewon to shop at High Street, and I've never been a fan of the store's jacked-up prices, but High Street had a lot of what I needed (and need) under one roof, so it's sad to see it go. Because I'm in denial, I'm hoping that the store is merely undergoing renovation; stores that go out of business generally hold a clearance sale and make major announcements to alert the local community. I checked High Street's website and saw no such announcement. I saw no notes plastered on High Street's front door. So maybe there's hope; maybe High Street will return, bigger and badder than ever. A man can dream, right?

A view from the street (click to enlarge, and you'll see the store's emptiness):

A view from the second-floor landing (click):

A shot of the uncharacteristically closed door, upon which there are no announcements as to why High Street currently looks gutted. Very strange to do this without alerting the community. You'd think that would be the civil thing to do, but instead, we get this:

This is very sad, but then again, it's not the first time that a favorite store of mine has unceremoniously disappeared. As much as I'd like to believe that stores in Korea normally announce that they're going out of business, I think the reality is that only some stores bother with announcements and clearance sales. Still, High Street is run by non-Koreans, so you'd think the staff would follow Western protocol instead of going out with a...

*By "original," I actually mean reduced, then uploaded—i.e., not a thumbnail.


Charles said...

That would suck if they really are closed for good. They had some very excellent hand-made Italian sausage there.

King Baeksu said...

I visited High Street Market a few times and found it overpriced and not at all as "gourmet" as its reputation warranted. I often found a better, cheaper selection of imported items at the markets catering to expats around the foot of Hooker Hill.

I think it was simply overtaken by the local Korean market, which has become much more sophisticated in recent years. Any Korean department store offers a similar range of imported-food items, and organic shops are proliferating. There are half a dozen organic markets within walking distance here in Cheonho-dong, and if you're a member you get a very nice discount. High Street Market just can't compete.

I'm on an entirely organic diet now, and most of what I buy is far cheaper than the largely processed crap sold at High Street Market. I had all but forgotten about it long ago.