HomeAsian AmericansLA Chinatown loses last full-service Chinese grocery store

LA Chinatown loses last full-service Chinese grocery store

Los Angeles Chinatown’s last full-service Asian grocery store will be closing its doors soon, reports Spectrum News 1.

Many of Ai Hoa Market’s customers are elderly Chinatown residents who walk to the store to buy low-cost groceries.

“I feel sad whenever I think about our longtime customers,” said Anh Ngo, who runs Ai Hoa Market with husband Huy Hang. “When I told them we had to close the business, my customers hugged me and cried with me. I love my customers and will miss them so much. I’ve been here for 35 years and now the new owner is making things difficult for me so I have to leave as soon as possible.”

Ngo said that a new landlord started charging over several thousand dollars a month for parking lot usage and that her customers only have a 30-minute grace period to shop, resulting in smaller purchases that cause Ngo to pay more than she earns.

A property manager from Gilmore China Group told Spectrum News 1 that the parking lot prices are the lowest rate in the area and that they are still open to negotiating a lease.

But Ngo and her daughter Linda Hang claim that negotiations on the parking lot fees have been difficult and impossible.

Ai Hoa Market will be relocating to South El Monte, with new name Ai Hoa Central Market.

Longtime customers are sad to see the store go.

“I’m in my 40s now. I’ve been coming here since gosh 15, 16 years old. My parents always came here and now we’re all grown up and I am pretty bummed they were heard they were leaving,” said customer Srey Mao.

Since Ai Hoa is already leaving, Hang says her current hope is that an affordable market will open in its place.

According to Curbed LA, Gilmore China Group said the plan is to put a new market on the site with similar affordable products as Ai Hoa, and it hopes to eventually have mixed income housing and retail in the space.

“It is also our continued hope to provide Chinatown with a quality local market … serving the needs of the Chinatown community,” read a company statement.

The Ai Hoa family will be holding a goodbye party today with the help of Chinatown Community for Equitable Development (CCED), a community-based organization actively fighting gentrification in LA Chinatown.

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