Fans of trinkets, mini Buddhas, sky lanterns and more, rejoice! New York’s beloved Asian emporiumPearl River Mart is slated to reopen in Tribeca in May 2017—under founders Ming Yi and Ching Yen Chen’s daughter-in-law, Joanne Kwong.
In March of this year, the iconic shop was forced to close its doors due to a rent hike. It’s a fate that befalls so many New York businesses; Pearl River’s demise was an especially tough one because its story was so inspiring. Its founders, husband-wife duo Ming Yi and Ching Yeh Chen, first opened it in 1971 as a small mom-and-pop shop in Chinatown, a “friendship store” to introduce Chinese merchandise and culture to New Yorkers. (Their initial shipment of goods came soon after Nixon removed the trade embargo; it was the first from China in more than twenty years.) In 2003, they expanded into a 30,000 square foot department store in SoHo.
Their daughter-in-law Joanne Kwong, the former counsel to the president and vice president of communications at Barnard College, has a vision for the shop’s reincarnation.
She plans to modernize the merchandise, increase the brand’s social media presence, and feature capsule collections and collaborations with a host of Asian-American designers and artists.
“The goal is to evolve the store from a traditional brick and mortar to a leading-edge retail experience while also perserving and honoring Pearl River’s incredible legacy,” she says.
In mid-November, Kwong will open a temporary pop-up shop at 395 Broadway until the store officially opens in May 2017.