HBI Welcomes Wig World to Chinatown’s Hayden Building

HBI Welcomes Wig World to Chinatown’s Hayden Building

Sang Won Han, who calls himself “James,” stopped by Historic Boston’s offices this week to pick up a key to the retail space in the historic Hayden Building at 681 Washington Street in Chinatown.  On September 1st, he’ll open Wig World Boston there, a business he’s been operating for five years not far away on Temple Place.

Born in Incheon, South Korea, James was 9 years old when he arrived in the US with his family.  They settled in Queens (New York) where his career in retail started early.  As a teenager James worked for Abercrombie and Fitch and the Banana Republic in New York City before moving with his family to Worcester, Massachusetts where he worked in the family business – a beauty supply store – for 12 years before venturing out on his own.

Five years ago, James purchased the former long time business, My Wig World, on Temple Place in Boston and has gradually built up his inventory and customer base to support a steady demand for wigs in the Boston area.

According to James, the Hayden Building’s space is perfect for the growth of his business.   “We will have more space for inventory, and we’ll have so much more visibility to passing traffic,” he said.  James currently displays nearly 800 wigs for men and women in his Temple Place shop.  They range from products made from real human hair to synthetic wigs of varying lengths, colors and styles.

“The Hayden Building is a beautiful building that has great windows for retail viewing,” said James.  “We look forward to displaying our products and welcoming shoppers.”

James HanWe asked James about the popularity of wigs.  While he acknowledged that Halloween week is very busy with patrons looking for costumes and colorful commercial wigs, the month of April is actually his busiest, when people are emerging from the cold and darkness of winter.  His business also supports cancer patients who are bridging the after effects of treatments.

The Hayden Building dates to 1875 and was designed by the great American Architect Henry Hobson Richardson.  Richardson designed the building for his father in law’s estate.  It was not recognized as a Richardson work until around 1975 when a sketch for it was found in the archives of Richardson’s successor firm, Shepley Bulfinch.  Many believe the Hayden Building’s design is the proto-type for his masterpiece Marshall Fields Warehouse, which no longer exists, in Chicago.

Historic Boston purchased the building in 1993 when it was structural compromised and fire damaged.  HBI completed structural and envelope repairs on the building and leased the first floor of the building to a bank.  The upper floors remained empty.  It wasn’t until 2009 and when HBI sold a small attached building next door to the Hayden Building, also known as Penang restaurant, and reinvested in the upper floors of the building for four market rate apartments while also restoring the historic building to its 19th century appearance.

HBI welcomes James and Wig World Boston to the Hayden Building and wishes him good fortune in his new expanded location.