K-pop phenomenon inspires Arizona businesses to satisfy legions of fans | Economic news

“Finding a location is usually not that difficult because the stores are usually quite accepting of it because we are attracting customers,” said Vanhkham, one of two members of AZyouniverse, the fan group that organized the event at Cha Tea in October.

“When customers come in and buy a drink at the store, they get a mug sleeve and usually other freebies like photo cards or key rings.”





Decorated cup sleeves adorned Jimin-inspired drinks at Cha Tea in October.


Brooke Tyburski, special for Cronkite News


AZyouniverse started in 2019 as a way for Vanhkham and Fernandez, 23-year-old friends and BTS fans, to connect ARMYs in Arizona. They held the first event on a roller rink in Glendale.

“I think 80 people showed up for that,” Fernandez said. “We were, like, ‘Oh my God, that’s pretty cool.'”

Since then, Vanhkham, a nurse, and Fernandez, a graduate student in architecture, have held six events at boba shops in the Phoenix and Tucson areas.

Wendy Pham, barista at Cha Tea, said Cup Leg event days are hectic and five times busier than a normal weekend day.

“But we completely forget how overwhelming the whole day of the event was because we were able to help the business grow,” Pham said.

Brian Chong has built a successful business on the K-pop phenomenon while honoring his Korean roots. He immigrated to the United States in 1976, determined to start a business to share his culture. It took him 12 years to open a traditional Korean barbecue restaurant in the Koreatown section of Carrollton, Texas.

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