Nancy Yu has been a staple in San Francisco’s Chinatown for more than two decades. Her store, Asiastar Fantasy, sells souvenirs, gifts and cultural items like red envelopes for Lunar New Year. While she’s weathered many challenges over the years, she’s never seen anything quite like 2020.
“Last year was a very difficult time — not just for us in Chinatown, but the whole city, the whole world,” Yu said.
Her sales are down 80% due to the pandemic. But for the last several months, Yu has been opening her store for several hours a day to be present for the community, even as business remains low.
“We want to send a message to people and ultimately say ‘Keep Chinatown open, we welcome you,'” she said. “I think it’s important that we stay open. We want to give people and other merchants encouragement.”
A small business owner in Chinatown, San Francisco
The neighborhood has seen a downturn due to a lack of tourism not only in Chinatown, but the Bay Area at large. Also, more broadly, research from Robert Fairlie, an economics professor at the University of California, Santa Cruz shows Asian-owned businesses nationwide have been the most negatively impacted of all demographic groups by last year’s pandemic…