Window of Pearl River Mart in Chelsea Market

Asian American Writers' Workshop: What’s Next for Pearl River Mart

Thanks to Michelle Chen, "goddaughter of Pearl River Mart" and actual daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Chen, for her latest insightful essay at The Margins, the Asian American Writers' Workshop's magazine. From the piece:

Pearl River has survived in part because it has changed with the times—my sister-in-law Joanne Kwong now runs the day-to-day operations and has reoriented the store’s brand around Asian American identity. Many of the customers who come to the store today are younger Asian Americans who are revisiting familiar items in a new light, seeking to reconstruct faded memories or revisit their relationship to their families and their diasporas. The Hello Kitty stationery, rice paper–wrapped milk candies, and stainless-steel lunch tiffins recall weekend grocery runs in Chinatown or their aunt’s tenement apartment that smelled like laundry soap and old talcum powder—memories that Asian Americans may have felt eager to leave behind before, but now want to reclaim.

Read the whole essay and Michelle's other work at The Margins.

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