By Assunta Ng
NORTHWEST ASIAN WEEKLY
Viet-Wah Supermarket in Little Saigon has announced that its last day will be Sept. 30, after nearly 41 years in business.
Located at 1032 South Jackson Street, Viet-Wah was once the biggest store in Little Saigon and inside Asian Plaza. Spanning 15,000 square feet, it housed a travel agency, as well as a Chinese herb store. Little Saigon is part of Chinatown-International District (CID).
“The COVID-19 situation plus an employee shortage” are the reasons the CID Viet-Wah store is closing, said its founder and president, Duc Tran.
“Viet-Wah has been losing about $10,000 a month. The market has been losing money for the past two years.” The store had cut back its hours from seven to six days a week, and it has been unable to hire enough employees.
Little Saigon has lost several businesses during the pandemic and ongoing public safety issues. Just recently, two more big businesses in CID were closed. The Starbucks store at Union Station was closed in July, and Bartell Drugs’ last day was Sept. 14.
However, Tran, 69, said it’s time to retire. A refugee who escaped from Vietnam by boat in 1976, Tran worked two to three jobs to survive in his early days.
He is the embodiment of the American Dream.
In 1981, Trans started his first store at 668 South Jackson Street. Later, it was moved to another CID location when the 668 building was being remodeled. In 1988, Viet-Wah expanded to its current location in Asian Plaza, and opened a restaurant and two other markets, one on Martin Luther King Way South and another one in Renton. The MLK store was closed in 2015, and the Renton store is still open. He also owned a wholesale business, which was sold three years ago.
Tran is grateful that America has taken his 11-member family, including his siblings and him, into this country.
“America is a land of opportunities. I thank America for making my dream come true that I can have my own business.”
After four decades, his family, including second and third generations, have grown to 60 members—a five-fold increase since his arrival in America in 1981.
Assunta can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.