Chinatown is an incredibly special and vibrant community.
Hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as a dramatic rise in hate crimes against Asian communities, Chinatown businesses are now more vulnerable than ever. Most are family run and rely largely on foot-traffic and word-of-mouth to stay open.
alexanderwang invites you to explore Chinatown Forever: the story of six Chinatown businesses as told by their founders and employees and documented by photographer Hao Zeng.
alexanderwang will be donating 100% net proceeds from the limited-edition Chinatown Forever t-shirt in support of Chinatown businesses.
To make a direct donation in support of Chinatown, please visit WelcomeToChinatown.com, an organization that supports businesses and amplifies community voices.
alexanderwang has contributed additional financial support to the Chinatown community through this project.
BAYARD MEAT MARKET
Bayard Meat Market is a family run business started by Maggie Sat’s father Siu Man Sat, who passed away in February 2021 from reasons unrelated to COVID-19. Originally from Hong Kong, her father led his siblings to grow the business into what it is today. Now, as Maggie and her cousins have inherited the business, they are looking to attract a new generation of customers while upholding their cultural roots.
Chinatown is home. I grew up in Chinatown and remember having big family get-togethers and dinners at local restaurants. It’s sad to see all of these businesses struggling and a lot of them shutting their doors for good. Maggie Sat, Bayard Meat Market
Sat says a personalized shopping experience is what makes Bayard Meat Market special. “We really can cater to your needs and how you want your meat prepared. We will help you debone and cut in any particular way you want. It’s building a relationship and interaction with the employee where you can talk to the person and get your meat how you would like it. It’s the customer service that sets us apart.”
Foot traffic has been the biggest blow to Bayard Meat Market’s business since the onset of the pandemic, with Sat acknowledging there are less people coming out in Chinatown in general. Bayard Meat Market’s current business consists mostly of the neighbors and customers that they have had for years.
NEW TOP JEWELRY
For almost 20 years, Jane Shuai has been offering her clients a unique and intimate jewelry shopping experience at New Top Jewelry on Centre Street. Once predominantly a destination for Chinatown locals, New Top rose to Instagram fame in 2016, solidifying Jane as a social media star and New York icon.
Lots of people buy their first piece of gold jewelry from me. They trust me. I ask them about their style, I give my opinion, and when they leave, they’re happy. And I’m happiest when I’m helping people. Jane Shuai, New Top Jewelry
While New Top was forced to close for 4 months in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Shuai says that since reopening, business has been stronger than ever. She attributes this to the New York community wanting to support small businesses.
GRAND CHINA TRADING
Grand China Trading is a Chinatown staple that’s been in business for over 20 years. Specializing in herbal medicine, Grand China Trading attracts a client base that’s estimated to be 99% Chinese and ranges from young to old.
Grand China Trading’s most popular item is ginseng, but since the COVID-19 pandemic, customers have become more interested in the shop’s delicacies than ever before.
The COVID-19 pandemic heavily impacted Grand China Trading with the shop forced to shut down for months, resulting in a significant financial hit. Grand China Trading has no ecommerce component, so business depends almost completely on foot traffic and word-of-mouth.
RED APPLE GIFT SHOP
Jenny Li first started her business 13 years ago with a tiny souvenir stall on Canal Street. Two years later, she opened Red Apple Gift Shop with a proper storefront on Mott Street. Li, who immigrated to the US from China, says fondly that Chinatown reminds her of home.
I miss China immensely, and Chinatown, New York feels like being home while so far away. Jenny Li, Red Apple Gift Shop
When she first started Red Apple Gift Shop, Li says business was great as tourists were always floating in and out. Post-COVID, business became harder and harder, as tourists are extremely rare nowadays. She is hoping to regain that crucial foot traffic as conditions improve.
When asked further about the Chinatown community, Li says, “There is more than meets the eye to Chinatown. I want people to embrace Chinese culture, and I feel my store is a great representation of that.”
WIN SEAFOOD MARKET
Win Seafood Market is a family business that’s been open for over two decades. Passed down to owner James Luu by his cousin, Win Seafood specializes in Salmon, Red Snapper, Kingfish and Branzino. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, business has been challenging for Win Seafood Market, but Luu sees a camaraderie between shops in Chinatown, a place that to him represents hard work and survival.
Chinese people work very hard and will do whatever they can to support their businesses. James Luu, Win Seafood Market
JADE, CRYSTAL AND CRAFT INC.
Sunny Zhan immigrated to New York over 25 years ago from Guangzhou, China. Fascinated with cultural artifacts since he was young, he opened Jade, Crystal and Craft Inc. as a way to preserve the history of these objects for future generations.
I’m proud to have started my business in Chinatown because it displays history, and is a community that has shown resilience, even in the midst of the pandemic. Sunny Zhan, Jade, Crystal and Craft Inc.