Sneak peek at IYB: Another Korean franchise on way

Sneak peek at IYB: Another Korean franchise on way

Champaign-Urbana is proving an attractive market for Korean franchises.

First up was Caffe Bene, Korea’s largest coffee franchise, which recently opened a cafe in the Gregory Place East building at Nevada and Gregory streets in Urbana. Caffe Bene has plans for a second location in JSM’s Campus Center project near Sixth and Green streets in Champaign’s Campustown.

Now comes word that another Korean franchise, Artbox, is coming to Champaign’s Market Place Shopping Center.

Artbox, a stationery, gift and clothing shop, will be located in the center’s east wing between Payless Shoes and Day Spa. Mall manager Dennis Robertson said the space Artbox is taking was formerly vacant.

Local franchisee Jeong Lee said he expects the store to open in mid-September.

Artbox has more than 100 stores in Korea, and this will be only its second store in the U.S., he said.

“This shop is very famous in Korea,” Jeong Lee said, adding that the first U.S. store is in Irvine, Calif. Artbox also has stores in Germany, Russia, Taiwan and other countries, he said.

Originally from Daejeon, South Korea, Jeong Lee came to the U.S. about a year ago and is a visiting scholar in materials science at the University of Illinois. He said his wife, Hyunjung Kim, will run the local Artbox store, and it will likely employ three or four people.

The merchandise at Artbox will include notepaper, shoes, school bags, apparel, accessories and gift items, he said.

The store’s phone number will be 355-5514. The website for the Artbox chain is, but be forewarned that most information at the site is in Korean, not English. The website for Artbox’s Singapore stores,, may help English readers get a better sense of the store.


Sections (3):News, Local, Business