By Rich Bockmann
For those who do not speak Korean, the Erom store near Broadway Station may appear — at first glance — to be a place devoted solely to the sale of bidets.
After all, the name of the European-style plumbing fixtures is the only English-language word adorning the sign over the corner of 164th Street and Northern Boulevard, and a pair of the devices are prominently displayed in the window of a commodious storefront as clean and tidy as porcelain.
Erom is, in fact, a line of Korean-manufactured wellness products, including appliances, foods and cosmetics.
“It’s a well-being store,” shop owner Young Pak said.
In addition to the bidets, which run between $650 and $800, including free installation while the store celebrates its grand opening this month, the other big ticket item at Pak’s shop is the water ionizer, a device that uses an electric current to separate the alkaline and acid found in the magnesium and calcium ions in water.
The wellness industry — including bottlers who may charge more than $4 for 20 ounces of the stuff — tout the health benefits of using water with a high pH level to neutralize acid in the bloodstream, boost metabolism and help the body more effectively absorb nutrients.
While there is no scientific consensus on the claims, alkaline water’s proponents say its benefits are wide-reaching.
“It’s very popular, especially in Korea,” said Pak, who added that cancer patients find alkaline water easier to swallow. “It helps to rehabilitate the body.”
The ionizers, which need to be hooked up to a tap water supply, are not inexpensive.
The Juvenis VII, which Pak said is ideal for a family of five or more, runs in the $3,000 range while the economy-size Juvenis V costs about $2,500.
Aside from the hardware, his store — which may evoke a knowing smile from New Yorkers whose bathrooms are uncomfortably close to the rest of their apartment — is arranged with an orderly stack of cubbies surrounding a cream-colored couch and a station with a kitchen sink.
The shelves each hold an Erom food product — freeze-dried, raw meals with organic ingredients that claim to do everything from fight cancer to help children grow taller.
The kitchen station, which Pak plans to have ready for the store’s April 7 grand opening, will be used to demonstrate pH levels in the city’s tap and show through different tests how the ionizer brings down pH levels.
Pak said he expects to do well with those already familiar with the Erom brand and reputation, adding that the appeal is universal.
“Everyone wants to diet and alkaline water is good for a diet,” he said.
Reach reporter Rich Bockmann by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4574.