SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) – As the community comes together to usher in the Year of the Ox, many Asian businesses in San Jose’s Little Saigon neighborhood are hoping that better days are ahead.
“It’s hard to see businesses suffer,” said Dublin-based Lanthy Le. “New Year’s not the same anymore because of COVID … it’s tough.”
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On Friday afternoon, Le was part of a small group of shoppers at the Grand Century Mall, which has become an unofficial hangout as one of America’s largest Vietnamese-facing malls. In normal times, thousands from all over Northern California attended the New Year celebrations and celebrations. However, some business owners say that despite their best efforts, they are barely sticking to it.
“Before (COVID-19) a lot of people were (were) in the Grand Century Mall,” said Angel Pham, who says sales at her store, Angel Beauty, have decreased 90% since last year. “It makes me so sad. There is a lot of pain and suffering. We need people who are happy.”
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Just a few doors away, Eurasia Delight has been an integral part of the community for nearly two decades. ABC7 News spoke to owner Joan Ngo, who was grateful for the support from her regulars but worried about what the next few months might bring.
“I just want them to know that we are available and open every day,” said Ngo, who added that sales are only a third of what they would normally do at this time of year.
Many minority-owned companies are uniquely affected by the COVID-19 crisis.
While reports of anti-Asian violence have made local and national headlines, not enough has been said about the cultural and historical barriers Asian American entrepreneurs face when seeking financial assistance.
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“The pain is not just felt in the fact that a company was shut down,” said Huy Tran of the Vietnamese American Roundtable, a San Jose-based nonprofit that is devoted to improving the quality of life for Vietnamese Americans. “It’s the dedication, the result of a person’s life, or the decades-long investment is over.”
While the so-called “American Dream” is in jeopardy for some of these entrepreneurs, many say the community can certainly play a role in keeping it alive.
“At the end of the day we’re all there together,” said Le. “Hopefully people will come out and support local businesses and the Vietnamese community.”
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