New York city’s popular Pearl River Mart announced it is set to close sometime after the new year.
The flagship store which has been a popular place to buy Asian goods while also serving as a spot for community gatherings appears to be a victim of the coronavirus pandemic.
“Our negotiations with the landlord have stalled and he has made clear his desire to use the courts to recoup every dollar he can, not just from our business, but from our personal assets,” Joanne Kwong and the Chens said in a “heartfelt” farewell blog.
“The pandemic has changed everything. Rent is the biggest fixed cost for every small business owner, and yet, nine months after the country shut down, we are no closer to any type of coherent strategy for relief or shared pain. It is estimated that one-third of all small businesses will close permanently, and the effects are already being felt on every single block in the city. As the stores, restaurants, salons, and theaters close, the fabric of each neighborhood starts to fray. Empty storefronts become littered with garbage and marked by graffiti, dry areas under scaffolding become occupied by those experiencing homelessness, and the businesses that remain find it that much harder to bear the weight of being the only ones sweeping, serving, and providing a sense of security for neighbors and longtime customers.
According to the Tribeca Citizen, the Chens opened the Mart as young graduate students from Taiwan in 1971. They moved several times over the years, the last move occurred in 2016 when their rent quadrupled at their location in SOHO. That’s when Kwong quit her job as an attorney to run the company at its current location in Tribeca. They also have locations at the Museum of Chinese in America and at Chelsea Market.
Kwong and the Chens say they have secured a new location in the neighborhood and will announce that after the holidays.
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