Johnny Dang with business partner and rapper Paul Wall
Johnny Dang with business partners on the floor of his new men's boutique.
The back work room where jewels are repaired and gussied up.
The glistening storefront of Johnny Dang & Co.
The crowd intensified and put their cameras up for a rare chance to see Chicago rapper Chief Keef up close and personal, here posing at the Hennessy station.
Johnny Dang (aka TV Johnny) is a real American success story. As he stood at the top of the stairs that lead to the second floor of his new, $4.5 million, 14,000 square foot retail mecca, behind yellow ribbon and a declaration from Mayor Sylvester Turner, he relayed a brief synopsis of his life story. When he came to America just about two decades ago, he wanted to carry on his father’s business of jewelry repair.
He had zero dollars in his pocket. All he knew was jewelry. Fast forward a few years, and he suddenly transitioned from repairing to crafting, and not mere bedazzling either — he was at the forefront of Houston’s (and the hip-hop world in general’s) obsession with grills, a.k.a. diamond- and/or gold-encrusted caps that are placed over your teeth.
From a man with only dirt in his pocket, to standing with business partner and legendary Houston rapper Paul Wall before hundreds of people (including more than a few celebrities), Dang personifies the American dream. Come, work, flourish, relish. And now his new store entices customers to the tune of a similar refrain: See it, want it, buy it, own it.
Dang, who’s operated storefronts near Greenspoint, the Galleria, and Plazas Americas, now has a flagship to call his own. Located at 6224 Richmond, Johnny Dang & Co. Fine Jewelry will be the new go-to for every rapper, athlete, and cool rich person who hits town. (Although, I’m sure Dang will continue to be more than game to meet his clients wherever they wish to see him when they travel to Houston.)
Not merely a place for grills, Dang’s new store has everything: wedding rings, high-end jewelry, a line by Dang’s wife, Fashcino, which includes jewelry for pets — all of which can be bought straight up, or, of course, taken to the back for some tricking out, blinging up, and personalizing.
The two-story ode to thriving features gold imported from Dang’s home country, Vietnam, and a men’s boutique on the second floor, which features brands like True Religion, Von Dutch, Ferragamo, and Gucci. (I saw a pair of Gucci flip-flops.) They even sell Yeezys.
It’s all topped off with a workhouse on-site, so Dang doesn’t have to rely on outside factories and shipments to handle his steady stream of clients. There’s even a gaudy (in the best possible way of course) VIP office where Dang conducts business, with a chandelier and gold-plated everything. To the delight of Wall, it’s fully backed by insurance.
“We ready for the hurricane! We about to cash out if a hurricane comes!” Wall beams.
What is more Houston than getting flood insurance for the new spectacular Johnny Dang store?
The grand opening coincided with James Harden‘s and adidas’ unveiling of the NBA MVP candidate’s first signature shoe, the Harden Vol. 1. Off Richmond on a Saturday night, with names such as Z-Ro, Chief Keef, Ashanti, Slim Thug, Lil’ Keke, Nipsey Hussle (and Travis Scott, Young Thug, and YG at the adidas event) there, the two events on the same day were a snapshot of what’s au courant for anyone with an eye for bling, high-end sneakers, and an interest in Houston culture, hip-hop culture, sports, and how it all intersects.
That Dang’s grand opening featured ample free food from Houston institution Mambo’s Seafood — truly a lifeblood for anyone looking for inexpensive, delicious seafood (their ceviche, shrimp cocktails, and fried rice rival any restaurant’s) and micheladas — was a gentle reminder of how deep the Houston roots extend to a brand uniquely our own. After a second plate of shrimp fried rice and egg rolls, and seeing countless members of Dang’s family roam the floors, the mood settled — this was a family event.
Only in Houston.