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The life of an Asian American shop

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The Mirror reporter

The Asian American Market is one of the few shops around the city of Stevens Point that sells Asian groceries and supplies.

The shop is located near the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point (UWSP), on Stanley Street. They’re open from 9 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Neng Lee and her husband, Thong Lee are the owners. They started April 1, 2001 and have been in business ever since.

Running the shop was a struggle for them since they didn’t have any previous experiences in this kind of business.

“We had no background in the business,” Neng said. Even so, with hard work and dedication along with a bit of help, they were able to make it through.

The previous renter of the place also had a similar kind of shop and was willing to help them. She helped them for the first three months and introduced them to certain companies that ship Asian products and supplies.

The majority of the local Hmong communities knew about the opening of the shop and were more than happy to shop there and help. The White communities and other ethnicities, on the other hand, didn’t know as much and so it was a struggle to bring in more diversity.

For the first two years, Neng and her husband spent a lot of time advertising so more people of different ethnicity learn about the shop. They did a lot of advertising to UWSP so that the students and professors there become aware of the shop.

A little fun fact, Neng and her husband purposely chose that place on Stanley Street because it was near the university. It is easier for students living on campus to shop at a nearby store and get grocery supplies. “The foreign students at UWSP shop here since it’s near,” Neng explained.

When asked about why they decided to quit their jobs and open a shop, Neng explained that she and her husband had been working for a long time and had wanted to be their own boss. She further explained that it was like a new adventure for them.

Neng also spoke about the harsh reality of being their own boss. She and her husband work really long hours and have to put a lot of time and effort into it. “If you want to be your own boss, you’ve got to know the long hours.”

She also said that when you’re in charge of your own shop, every action you make, and every mistake that happens, you’re held accountable for it and you’re on your own to fix it.

“It’s been a long time. When we started, my son was still in kindergarten in McKinley Elementary and now he’s done with college.” It’s been 17 years since the opening of the shop and so some changes are bound to happen. Back then, they didn’t sell dumplings and kimchi.

Neng gets her supplies and products from different companies within the states. Her main suppliers are from California, Minnesota, Connecticut, and the city of Chicago. She often shops around to get the supplies and products she wants and explains that you’d often not be able to get all the wanted supplies from just one company.

Neng said that she and her husband would experiment with new products and wait for the customers’ reaction to it. If they liked the product then she’ll order more and sell more of it, but if they didn’t then, she’d order less.

Another change is that they didn’t have as much diversity as they have now. There were a lot more Asian customers, especially Hmong Americans, than White customers and they wanted to change that.

“White people were afraid to come in because of the stereotype that the cashier didn’t speak English,” Neng explain. Nowadays, that stereotype is slowly declining and customers with different ethnicity are increasing.

Customers who’ve been a regular there describe the shop as organized, neat, and really handy. They say that you can practically buy all the stuff you’re looking for and if you have any questions you can always ask the owner and staff. The staff and the owners are very friendly and are always willing to help.

“I like the Asian American Market because it has a variety of Asian foods. I would recommend it to someone if they are in need of Asian foods,” Amy Thao, a senior at Stevens Point Area Senior High (SPASH) said.

Anisha Yang, a junior student at SPASH, said, “My experiences at the Asian American Market are good! I’ve been going there throughout my whole life and never a disappointment!” She also further explained that if she had to rate the shop from a scale of 0-10, she’d rate it a strong 10.


8 Responses to “The life of an Asian American shop”

  1. Maryann Silva on January 9th, 2019 8:44 AM

    Wow! I didn’t know we had an Asian American market!! I don’t live in town so I don’t know a lot but this is awesome. My family and I will have to check it out one day. I’m glad they have been around since 2001! That’s a long time. Thanks for informing me this shop Hlee. Great job.

  2. Willow Kluck on January 9th, 2019 11:10 AM

    So much great information! You have so much history in this article and is sounds like a great place! I never knew of the Asian American shop here and it sounds like an amazing place. I will definitely check this place out and see what is all there! Keep up the incredible work!

  3. Rachel Placeway on January 9th, 2019 11:15 AM

    You could have used more descriptive quotes to avoid repetition. However, I really liked how you also included quotes from secondary sources.

  4. Bryant VanRossem on January 10th, 2019 10:45 AM

    This is a really cool article. I have never heard or seen this place before but I will try to stop by next time I pass. Great article!

  5. Soren Luther on January 10th, 2019 11:16 AM

    Great job on your article! I LOVE THE ASAIN AMERICAN MARKET! This is easily one of my favorite stores in Stevens Point. I go there with my friends or family and I usually stock up on Ramen or soda when I go there. They really have a great variety of food there and I think this store is a really great place to go. Keep up the great work!

  6. Justice Chukwuemeka on January 10th, 2019 11:18 AM

    Amazing article!! I have been to the shop before and I thought it was awesome. They have so many items that you wouldn’t find in other shops.

  7. Madison Rindahl on January 10th, 2019 3:53 PM

    I really I think the Asian American Market! I have been there a couple of times and my friends really love it to. We can get so many different kinds of foods there that I don’t normally buy at the store. I really loved this article because it gave great information about the owners of the store. I’m sure owning your own store is very hard work. Thanks for the great article!

  8. Lauren Huebner on January 11th, 2019 8:21 AM

    I love going to the Asian Market. I always check out the snacks and candies to see if there are any new ones. I also like getting Ramune, the flavors are really interesting.

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