K-pop group BTS promote new album with pop-up shops in New York and LA

Set up to celebrate the release of BTS' new album Proof, the stores are slated to run through mid-September. PHOTO: REUTERS

NEW YORK (BLOOMBERG, REUTERS) - Teenage girls filled a long-vacant New York City storefront on Friday (June 10) afternoon, drawn to a side street in Tribeca neighbourhood to celebrate the release of Proof, the new album from K-pop sensation BTS.

In the first hour of the pop-up, the exclusive merchandise, from US$18 (S$25) posters to US$55 T-shirts, had yet to arrive.

Fans did not seem to mind. They placed delivery orders for hoodies, snapped photos and enjoyed free pizza - an offering to make up for the lack of branded gear on-hand.

Two pop-ups, one in New York City and another in West Hollywood, California, are slated to run through mid-September.

New York City's experience greets attendees with flashing lights, filling a black-and-white space packed with backdrops made for Instagram posts, such as blocks spelling out BTS. The band's hits play on a loop.

Superfans, such as members of the K-pop group's so-called BTS Army, have embraced the return of in-person experiences, spending more on concert tickets and the merchandise sold there.

Last year, the group took in roughly US$33 million in ticket revenue during a four-night stint in Los Angeles.

Live-events company Fever, behind installations like Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience, and The Queen's Ball: A Bridgerton Experience, served as the ticketing platform.

Entry is free, but dedicated supporters can reserve a time slot online. Advance tickets for the first month have sold out.

A free pop-up is an easy sell for many fans, including Ms Adriana Guzman and Ms Jenny Wen, two 21-year-old fans who snagged entry for the exhibit's first day. The two reconnected after high school when they both attended a BTS concert in Las Vegas in April.

Two VIP tickets ran Ms Guzman US$1,000, while Ms Wen's pair of floor seats cost her US$600. They each went on to spend more than US$300 on merchandise at the concert.

"I spent a lot. More than intended," said Ms Wen.

BTS released their anthology album, Proof, on Friday in a highly anticipated return to the music scene as they celebrate the ninth anniversary of their debut.

According to South Korean music chart Hanteo Chart, over 2.15 million copies of the album have been sold on the first day of release.

The seven-member group last year became the first Asian band to win Artiste of the Year at the American Music Awards. Last month, they met United States President Joe Biden at the White House to discuss hate crimes targeting Asians.

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