San Jose small businesses hope for Lunar New Year boost

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- As the community comes together to usher in the Year of the Ox, many Asian American-owned businesses in San Jose's Little Saigon neighborhood are hopeful that better days are ahead.

"It's hard to see businesses suffering," said Dublin resident Lanthy Le. "New Year's is not the same anymore due to COVID... it's tough."

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Friday afternoon, Le was among a small group of shoppers at Grand Century Mall, which has become an unofficial gathering place, as one of America's largest Vietnamese-focused malls. In normal times, thousands from all over Northern California would visit for Lunar New Year festivities and celebrations. However, some business owners say they're barely hanging on despite their best efforts.

"Before (COVID-19) a lot of people (would be) in the Grand Century Mall," said Angel Pham, who says sales at her store, Angel Beauty, have dropped 90% since last year. "It makes me so sad. There's a lot of pain and suffering. We need people to be happy."

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Just a few doors away, Eurasia Delight has been a community staple for nearly two decades. ABC7 News spoke with owner Joan Ngo, who has been grateful for the support from her regulars, but worries about what the next few months will bring.

"I just want to let them know that we're available and that we're open every day," said Ngo, who added that sales are just a one-third of what they normally would be this time of year.

Many minority-owned businesses have been uniquely impacted by the COVID-19 crisis.

Although reports of anti-Asian violence have made local and national headlines, not enough has been said about the cultural and historical barriers that Asian American business owners face when asking for financial assistance.

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"The pain is felt not just in that a business has closed," said Huy Tran with the Vietnamese American Roundtable, a nonprofit organization based in San Jose that is dedicated to improving the quality of life for Vietnamese Americans. "It's the devotion, the result of a person's life, or decades of investment is now gone."

While the so-called "American Dream" is at risk for some of these entrepreneurs, many say the community can certainly play a role in helping to preserve it.

"At the end of the day, we're all in it together," said Le. "Hopefully people will come out, and support the local businesses and the Vietnamese community."

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