Hello, my name is Ellen Kim.

I am the owner of Beauty Town Plus, a beauty supply store located on 9163 W Florissant Ave, Ferguson, MO.

Our store was looted three times during the initial rioting and then burned down last week. We lost everything in the fire, and our insurance covers less than a fourth of the damages.

My son is helping me type and set up this AMA as he is better with computers and English.

More details (and proof) can be found on our gofundme page:


Please spread the word, my family lost our only income and we spent most of our savings rebuilding the store after the initial looting.

Imgur album of damages:


Thank you and please AMA

Comments: 2019 • Responses: 45  • Date: 

jdaher1602 karma

If you could say one thing to the looters, what would it be?

beautytownstl4397 karma

I want justice too.

HUFFRAID788 karma

Yoon-oh! This is Steve J from high school (not sure if you remember me), and I'm really sorry for what happened to your store:

Have you been contacted by any media, local or national, concerning the damages that occurred to your store? If so, how did they handle the reporting/interviewing when talking with your family?

beautytownstl810 karma

Son here, hi Steve.

There are a few videos of our store online somewhere, I believe.

The media was all over the area following the rioting. My parents declined pretty much all interviews as their English isn't the greatest. I think we were covered by Korean newspapers as well.

nas4k8782 karma

How does damage like this work with your insurance? I mean you can't help where your store is located and who targeted what stores.

beautytownstl1538 karma

We have insurance, however it will take time to file and process the claim. Even then we lost around $500,000 in inventory, but our policy only covers $120,000.

jmdxsvhs15762 karma

Jesus christ, this makes me so angry. I honestly assumed insurance took care of everything.

beautytownstl1523 karma

You get what you pay for and our policy is from when we started our store, Because of language I could not completely understand renewal papers, did not raise my premium. That is my fault.

[deleted]-15 karma


beautytownstl85 karma

Ten years of accumulated stock, we had a basement warehouse and hair can be up to $150 a pack. We had a lot of discontinued and valuable items that people would ask us for.

jdaher710 karma


beautytownstl1551 karma

Well he sure didn't help...

Bozakk642 karma

Were any of the people who looted and burned your store caught/arrested?

beautytownstl1264 karma

We don't know, we are too busy taking care of our finances and paperwork to keep up on things like that.

Edit: After first one Police recover some merchandise returned to us. We have had Security guards drop off packs of rain-soaked hair. Apparently looters just threw away a lot of our products in back alleys.

time_to_go_mobile508 karma

First off, I just want to say I am very sorry for your loss. It's terrible that a small business like Beauty Town Plus (or any business, really) was targeted in such a manner. I truly hope you get all of the support that you and your family deserve over the next few months. That all being said, I do have a few questions:

Why do you want to return to Ferguson, after everything that has happened? Do you still feel like a part of the community?

beautytownstl936 karma

Honestly, Ferguson was a good neighborhood before the shooting happened. We feel that we owe it to our customers to reopen, they showed us a lot of compassion in the time we were reopened.

officialchocolateman484 karma

Are you Korean? What was the most popular item that people stole? Why do you think your business was a target?

beautytownstl748 karma

Yes, I am a first-generation Korean immigrant.

Edit: Mostly packs of hair, purses

Because of location

lboss1223250 karma

ㅠㅠ 타지에서 많이 힘드시겠어요... 힘내세요 ㅠㅠ

beautytownstl277 karma

감사합니다. 힘낼께요!

bigfatartcat111 karma


beautytownstl563 karma

Son here:


:'( Because burned many takes much strength I think... Give strength :'(

Thank you. Will give strength!


:'( It must be so hard because of the fire... Hang in there :'(

Thank you. I will.

gulpeg393 karma

Do you have any resentment against those who have done this to your shop?

beautytownstl1247 karma

They took my family's only income. I can't understand why anyone would do that. More than resentment, I'm sad.

sempiturtle486 karma

What types of rebuilding efforts will be made for the businesses that were burnt to the ground? Will you be accepting free labor in the building process? I've got a few friends who would love to help as long as you don't mind a couple undergraduates with DSLR's sleeping in your parking lot.

I'm sorry for the ignorance of those people who have robbed you of more than material, but I would love to help make up for their idiocy.

beautytownstl648 karma

Our landlord has to first make the decision to rebuild the property or not. If she rebuilds we will move back in. Hopefully by then the trouble will have settled down and W Florissant will be back to being the bustling street it used to be.

As far as labor goes, we aren't that far in the process and if we were to accept your offer, you'd be welcome to sleep at our home.

ricooosuave304 karma

  1. what will the $30,000 go toward?

  2. Has the local community helped with clean-up or rebuilding?

beautytownstl490 karma

1) Edit: I checked the answer that my son help me. there was some misunderstanding. Suddenly we lost our only income. We might temporarily need living expense until insurance money comes . But I will use these donations to build new store. I already made an account separately to save these donation.

2) Many offered to help and gave their condolences in person. The community cleaned up outside of our store after the looting. We declined help in the interior because we had to sort the salvageable merchandise from the unsalvagable.

SRD_Grafter284 karma

How long had the store been in business? Had it been robbed/looted before this year?

Were you or your family injured during the lootings? Did they happen during a time when the store was not occupied?

beautytownstl545 karma

We had been in business for a decade. We've been broken into 3 times total before the rioting. Each time our alarm system went off and the police showed within minutes.

No one was injured, we closed early before anything started.

Shpadoinkles273 karma

If you had the means, would you have attempted to defend your store ala the Korean shop owners during the San Fransisco LA(I'm an idiot) riots?

beautytownstl689 karma

Son here. If I'd known the store was going to be burned down, I would have driven down from my place with my rifle and stood in front of the store. My parents bought a handgun after the initial looting and I'm sure my father would have stood there with me.

Also, you meant LA riots lol.

uberpower236 karma

Would you rather defend your store against 100 duck sized arsonists, or one horse sized looter?

beautytownstl650 karma

Son here, I'm pretty sure I could take down one horse sized looter. My shootymcbangbang's pretty big and looters are cowards.

A hundred balls of fire and stupidity? I dunno, I could take down maybe like 30-40 tops before the fire spreads to my clothing. Maybe if you gave me a bit of time to set up some sort of bottleneck with passive fire retardation and active fire suppression systems. Or a tank. I need more information to give you a better answer. What are the variables? I am naked? Do I get any weapons? Do they get any weapons? This is a complex question you need to follow up.

uberpower221 karma

The duck sized arsonists are mostly high and/or drunk, not very good at starting fires, and half shirtless. They are uncoordinated and full of false bravado.

You may arm yourself any way you know how - if you know how to get a tank, that's allowed.

Nudity is up to you.

The duck sized arsonists are armed mostly with generic non-Bic lighters and mini-bar molotov cocktails. Some have cups of gasoline or lighter fluid bottles.

The horse sized looter has a large wooden club and switchblade. When he stands up, he's 12 feet tall and 1200 pounds. You wonder if ordinary firearms would put a dent in his cold, glassy eyes.

beautytownstl623 karma

With the looter, I only have to take down one target, less variables to control for. I'm a good shot and my rifle is chambered big enough for anything on the North American continent. However my Mosin is a 1944 Tula, so it's not the most accurate or quality, I'll likely get off a maximum of 5 quick shots before the bolt sticks and my grouping will be shit under stress.

In an urban scenario I don't think there will be much distance, so I have to make those shots count. If he gets to me, it's over. Im 5'6" and 120lbs. I've been doing stronglifts for about 5 months so I'm relatively fit, but the weight difference is too great. I'm a 1st dan in TKD and a little BJJ under my belt, but I'm no Bruce Lee.

In conclusion, if i can get 2-3 of those shots center-mass at maybe 100 yards out I'll have a chance.

As for the duck sized arsonists, I start off with a fire hose and drench as many as I can. Their wet, cheap lighters won't go off and they probably weren't boy scouts as kids so they won't know any woodland fire starting techniques. I'm assuming they're drunk enough that they just spill the gasoline on themselves, so no threat there. I borrow my friends 10/22 and pop in a 50 round drum mag. I throw a few black powder pipe bombs into the crowd and unload. If they get too close I switch to melee. Dual sabers, they were designed to be used on crowded areas like shipdecks. My back will be protected by ballistic plates and nomex layers for fireproofing duct-taped together, enough to stop even 338 Lapua.


Fully torqued.

TL;DR with new info, I change my answer to the 100 duck-sized arsonists.

EDIT: wtf don't gild this, throw $4 at the gofundme... Still gonna check out /r/lounge tho

WyoPeeps194 karma

Do you plan on pressing charges against the suspects who have been caught in connection with the looting and fire?

beautytownstl440 karma

If they are caught, we will do our part according to the law.

Zoyd146 karma

First off, is there anything someone can do to help your situation in any way besides a donation (not living close either)? Do you think the government should have acted differently than it did or does now?

I sincerely wish you and your parents the best of luck, health and patience in rebuilding your store, and hope that your future holds only good things for your store and family.

beautytownstl312 karma

Spreading the word about our gofundme would be plenty.

I think the government tried their best, we're all human. I support the use of body cameras on policemen, there really is no reason not to in my mind.

Timofeo122 karma

What is the craziest thing that has happened in your store before the looting?

beautytownstl265 karma

My husband headed over to the store during the initial and had to just watch people coming in and out with our products from the car. He didn't want to go in alone, but a news crew came up and asked to go inside with him.

While inside giving an interview, a looter tried to crawl in through a window behind them a few feet away.

EDIT: I'm sorry you said "before". We had been burgled three times in 10 years of business and the police always showed very quickly so not much was lost.

Squatchus76 karma


beautytownstl299 karma

Son here, must be all that college edumacating (paid by mom via her store).

ObscureCulturalMeme113 karma

Will this incident cause you to consider moving somewhere else?

One the one hand, it's the community where you live. Family, friends, etc, are there.

On the other hand, that same community just removed your only source of income because they were angry at somebody else and you happened to be nearby.

beautytownstl276 karma

We will be back in the same building, if not area. We don't believe the people of Ferguson did this. The looters came down to take advantage of the situation.

lonelyagain87 karma

I'm curious. If you don't think the people of Ferguson did this than where are the looters from? Do you believe that people from out of town did this? I know a lot of people flocked to Ferguson during that time.

beautytownstl663 karma

Ferguson was a low crime area. Most likely people from East St Louis and other crime-ridden parts of the metro area.

Pelagine112 karma

I'm so sorry for your losses. You must feel so sad right now.

When the police responded to your calls in the past, and during the riots, did they treat you well? Did you feel respected by them?

What are your thoughts on how Ferguson can rebuild now - not just its shops, but a feeling of community?

beautytownstl244 karma

The police were very professional with us and quick to respond before the riots.

First :When the looting started, our security company called us to alert us of a break in and that the police issued an advisory to stay out of the area. After 6~7 hours police allow us to come to check. Second: The security company called us saying calls to the police station weren't going through. That time highway patrol charge Ferguson. I called Ferguson Police station. She gave me Highway patrol phone number. But They did not answer.When my husband arrived store there is no Police. the second time.it took the police 3~4 hours to arrive to check. Third: Police arrived in 2.5 minutes. Last: I don't know.

QuesterProblems101 karma

Have you made any contact with regular customers?

beautytownstl173 karma

Ten years and yes, they were all very supportive.

Arob9681 karma

Found you again :). same question. Did your store have the metro pcs sign on it?

beautytownstl142 karma

That was our neighbor and our family friend's store.

NurdCore71 karma

What businesses were near your shop? Did any of these neighboring businesses receive the amount of damages your shop did?

beautytownstl156 karma

Our entire building and the businesses in it were completely gutted by the fire. Pretty much everyone up and down the block had windows shattered or were broken into. However, we were probably one of the hardest hit.

During the initial looting, police took 6 hours to arrive. People were pulling up their cars and more or less shoveling things into them.

I believe around a dozen buildings in the city were burned down as well.

willybg61 karma

I'm having an extremely difficult time trying to understand the thought process behind those who looted from your store or any other store in your town. How can they, in good conscience, believe that it will bring about any solution to the issue at hand? I am so sorry that your store was in the crossfire of such an unnecessary act of violence and stupidity.

beautytownstl256 karma

They don't. We don't believe any of the looters were looking for justice, they just wanted to do crime scot-free.

6ft_2inch_bat43 karma

Listening to the scanners that night, at least once the fire department was told to either pull back or not go due to random shots being fired by troublemakers. They (the cops) could not guarantee their safety. I am not defending the lack of response or saying you should be okay with it, it just added to the lunacy from my viewpoint. "They are even preventing people from providing aide with their (the looters) stupidity!"

beautytownstl89 karma

There was a firetruck pulled up to our store as we were one of the first set on fire. We hoped they'd put it out in time, and they were chainsawing into our store. But before they got any water into the building, there were pulled back due to random shots.

46n2arejustaheadofme69 karma

Do you have any plans to improve security in the future? I remember that after the 92 riots in LA many korean store owners redesigned their stores so that they are easier to lock down and defend.

beautytownstl224 karma

The structure is up to the landlord. After the initial looting we asked for permission to fully block off the frosted glass windows in the pictures which are on the side of the store. They said no, because Ferguson city regulation but after they broke in again we did it anyway. We also asked for tamperproof glass, but they told us we'd have to pay for upgrading the glass and we don't have that kind of money.

Son here: The LA riots were a different scenario, the entire neighborhood was ethnically unified and most owners were 1st-gen Korean immigrant, which meant that they had most likely done 3 years of mandatory service in Korea. St. Louis doesn't have a Korean population large enough to do the same. There's a difference between having a borderline militia at your back and a dad and son with a couple of guns.

Puffsdangerfield65 karma

How do you feel about the way the verdict was handled? (To clarify, I mean the decision to announce at night and such. Not the verdict itself)

What is something you would like to say to the officials who made the decisions to handle it the way they did?

I'm glad that you are willing to stay in your community and rebuild, but I truly wish you didn't have to make that decision in the first place. Losing something you have worked so hard for is like mourning the death of someone close. My heart goes out to you and your family for your loss and I wish you great success in your future.

beautytownstl245 karma

I think it wouldn't have mattered how they handled the verdict. The looters were just waiting for an excuse, one way or the other.

I feel those official had to make a lot of very hard choices and I don't blame them, they are human. Part of me wonders had they released all the evidence much sooner, maybe it wouldn't have gotten as bad as it did. But I think they tried to the best of their ability.

officialchocolateman59 karma

Are you planning to do business again in Ferguson?

beautytownstl158 karma

If the landlord chooses to rebuild the building, we plan on reopening. We owe it to our loyal customers.

GeekyCreeper41 karma

No justice, no peace!

You certainly didn't get justice, but now you don't have any peace, either.

It's a shame.

When did you first find out about the jury verdict, and when did you find out about the streets being looted?

beautytownstl85 karma

Son here, my parents didn't feel like watching and waiting for the verdict.

I was at my place and was sniffing around twitter.

I saw this tweet and called my parents. A bit later I saw this one and told my parents everything was gone.

wingsaway10 karma

Wow, that's heartbreaking, I am truly sorry for your losses. How did your parents react?

beautytownstl17 karma

My mom kinda just said, "Whelp I guess its gone then, nothing we can do about it now." Dad didn't really say anything.

lswhat8719 karma

Are you planning to rebuild? If so, are you staying at the same location or are you planning on going to a different location?

beautytownstl30 karma

If the landlord decides to rebuild, we will move back in.

hltgi18 karma

What?! I thought for sure that Korean shop owners would be the one group that could put a stop to that shit....


beautytownstl36 karma

That was in Koreatown, and iirc an 18 year old died from friendly fire.

Mantisbog15 karma

Why didn't you electrify the floors after the first time it happened?

beautytownstl66 karma

Son here: Mostly because we wanted to keep our customers. And cost. And its really hard to electrify tile.

MisterBob9612 karma

Were you or any of you employees in the store at all during the looting? I heard that people were holed up in the store with guns and we're shooting people trying to get in. I couldn't believe that I heard that.

beautytownstl33 karma

No, we closed early.

bluesnickers6 karma

Are you re-opening your store at the same location?

저도 주유소 해봐서 아는데 밤에 누가 유리만 깨고 도망가도 열받는데.. 힘내시라고 밖에 할말이 없네요. 힘내시고 새해에느 좋은 일만 있으시길..

beautytownstl10 karma

지금은 건물주가 다시 지으면 들어갈 생각이예요. 나쁜일들이 많이 일어났으니 이제 좋은일들이만 남았다고 생각하고 힘낼께요. 감사합니다.

Dhrakyn-5 karma

What did they miss stealing the first two times that they came back for the third time? Have you considered keeping the things they looted in the front of the store to limit vandalism next time?

beautytownstl11 karma

We restocked the store after the first two times. The third wasn't as bad as the police showed were literally next door.

Our store was mostly hair in the back area and hair product and misc merchandise in the front. The areas were open to each other, and most shoplifting happened in the front as we electronically tagged most of our hair. That way we can keep an eye out over the commonly stolen items.

PmMeYourBrain-6 karma

Why would you ever want to re-open in the same neighborhood? If their mentality is to protest the killing of a thug by robbing you then certainly you should see the folly of reopening.

beautytownstl57 karma

The looters were not our customers. We don't believe the community of Ferguson were the ones being violent.

scenely-12 karma

I don't mean to offend but perhaps you should move your business out of that backwater city after this whole debacle.

Why don't you do that? Collect your insurance payout and get the fuck out of there.

beautytownstl15 karma

The city is not backwater, before the shooting it was a vibrant, safe community. We do not believe the violence was perpetrated by the people of Ferguson.

Insurance won't cover even a fourth of what we lost. And if I were to leave, where would I go? I'm a first-generation immigrant with limited English. Who will hire me?

If I start another store, how long until I build a new customer base? Inventory can be restocked, but finding customers takes time. In the meantime, who will pay for my youngest son's tuition? Our mortgage? I spent most of my savings rebuilding after the looting, I don't have the time or money to set up a new business elsewhere.