Saving the Oldest Store in NYC’s Chinatown

Saving the Oldest Store in NYC’s Chinatown

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(gentle music) – [Woman] Wing on Wo itself being here, throughout five generations
is a radical act. And the fact that we’re
opening our doors to engage with our community in another way, takes that to the next level. – To bend the word threat. (clapping) – [Mei Lum ] Trying to
integrate a social mission into the work that we do here; for me it’s also cultivating my own relationship with Chinatown as it changes. – [Narrator] This Great Big Story is brought to you by Delta. When we venture out into the world, we see all that we share. – My name is Mei Lum. I’m the fifth generation
owner of Wing on Wo and also the founder and
director of the Wow Project. Wing and Wo is the oldest continually run store in Chinatown. It was started by my
great-great-grandfather in 1890. Today Wing on Wo, sells a
collection of porcelain. Wing on Wo is completely family run. The store has been throughout the years, like our family living room. It’s where we meet up, where we hang out. There’s a kitchen in the back. We’re not only selling porcelain pieces, but we’re also supporting the community through the work that we
do with the Wow project. And we’re doing that
through arts and activism. At the time when Chinatown was forming, we had no other place to go. We were being pushed out and marginalized, so we had to in order to
survive, create these Chinatowns, to pass a safe space. There’s still recent immigrants that are coming to America
and needing a space to land. But Chinatown’s around the country are at a very pivotal
moment with their longevity and reassessing their purpose in serving these immigrant communities. A lot of different Asian Americans who aren’t even Chinese, come
to Chinatown to grocery shop to learn about their
culture and their identity. For me, the store itself
has been a landing and launching pad in my life to understand my Asian-American identity; to understand Chinese culture and history as well as my sense of
self and sense of grounding in this community. After I graduated college I
decided to live and work abroad for eight years. I came back hoping to
apply to grad school, but right before I
hopped on the plane back, my dad had called me and told me, we are thinking about selling
the business and the building. I always had relied on having
this space as a constant. So when I realized that
this was not going to be here anymore that’s when
you start thinking about, how can I continue this legacy? (melancholic music) I never ever thought that I
would be taking over the store, but I started learning
about gentrification and displacement. And that really opened my
eyes to the larger context that my family situation was existing in. I had to make that decision, if I was going to do something about it. When I took over I had
a lot of interactions with all these people
in my community about what they care about, and I was in a position to do something. So we started a community initiative out of the store front
called the Wow Project. We do host different public programs in the storefront space, like
screenings, talks, readings. – It seemed as if there
were serpents and ocean. I fought to be with my son. (clapping) – [Mei Lum] We have a
storefront residency program that we offer up to an
emerging Asian American artist. We also have the youth internship program. It really runs the gamut. The largest event that we hold is our anniversary fundraiser. And we’ve outgrown the
store, so just to see how many people came out,
it was really incredible. Chinatown has been such
a safe haven for me, and I’m happy that I was
able to grow up in this space because it’s grounding me. So for me it’s amazing to hear
that, that’s the same thing for other folks. That’s the dream right? – So much of this year has been about strengthening our community. So to the Wow team, thank you for your heart soul
creativity and imagination. – We want people to be able
to cultivate themselves, nurture themselves here
and be able to like do even bigger and better things beyond this. (gentle music)

100 thoughts on “Saving the Oldest Store in NYC’s Chinatown

  • Mary Rounds Post author

    I how it's in Japan

  • Perspicacity Post author

    SHOUT OUT to ALL my AFRO people throughout the four corners of the earth, my AFRO AMERICANS my AFRO LATINOS my AFRO CHINESE and so forth

  • Ironsix6six Post author

    Don't need shops like these when Amazon is sucking up all the revenue

    Yang 2020

  • Zeacorzeppelin10 Post author

    Neat, I have to check this place out

  • Ivan Novotny Post author

    Kim's convinience. (Look it up.) CBC from downtown Toronto, On., Canada. ??

  • Luis Alberto Pérez Nájera Post author

    So… the store is now more like a cultural center? I mean, maybe saving the store is not even important, you should do something else, in this world you can't compete with the biggest.

  • Meowth In de game Post author

    Well the store looks 100% more promising than the best Chinese supermarket in my hometown

  • Avery the Cuban-American Post author

    1890? Wow, that's a cool store

  • Enzo Rivas Post author

    The girl is so beautiful and intelligent

  • Oh yeah123 yeah Post author

    i am the wu assassin

  • Hassan Sultan Post author

    These days everyones a director of something . lemonade stand has a board of directors

  • Kim Jong-un Post author

    President Pooh will save that store by making it Communist

  • Paulo de Tarso Porrelli Post author


  • Mostly Present Post author

    Brought to you by Panda Express… the world's most authentic Chinese food.

  • HA HA Post author

    Mei Lum looking cute

  • Mostly Present Post author

    Gentrification and displacement… otherwise known as the renovation of slums, resulting in rising property values and a higher quality of life.

  • Patricia Francis Post author

    Every time I'm in NYC Chinatown I stop in this store. When I ring into the city with me I bring them here and tell them the story of this special store. I love this store, it's so special.

  • Mostly Present Post author

    I wonder what the pioneers that settled this country would think about safe spaces? ?

  • Poke Hype Post author

    Watches this a day after visiting NYC….

  • ruby._. kim Post author

    347th like from South

  • TheNerdLexicon Post author

    Who else got a Great Big Story ad before the video made by great big story? Like who makes money in this situation?

  • I am a cow Post author

    I got a great big story ad

  • Aksel0206 Post author

    Shes 1/4 elf

  • Dark Soul Post author

    Bold and inspiring ?

  • Daniel Trinh Post author

    Great piece, lived in NYC for almost 39 years and just recently visited the store, cute and quaint. I definitely love Mei's vision and hope I can contribute in the near future.

  • CHIGGS 58TH Post author

    1890? So this is where mogwai originated.

  • Super Jackson Post author

    OMG, I was just at this store and I got a tea set from it with some other stuff, and while I was there the father made a comment like " my daughter is taking me into the next generation as my boss" it makes me so happy to see that my favorite YouTube channel did a video on this???

  • Spiral Breeze Post author

    That’s awesome that she’s keeping it in the family! I’ve lost many of my own family’s pieces of the city over the years. I hope she can continue to have open doors for many years to come.

  • PringlesTheGoose Post author

    wow i got an ad from great big story at the beginning of this video

  • Ani Chen Post author

    Went passed it so many times. That part of Chinatown has inevitable part of my life and childhood. I only went there once but I didn't know they have such beautiful porcelains. I will be recommending this store to everyone I know.

    Edit: I talked to friends about the store. They said that the store wasn't like how it was now back few years ago.

  • gregg bambu Post author

    I lived upstairs for many years. The building next doorto be exact 28 Mott. Above the Pekin duck house

  • jess kjellberg Post author

    I went here on my journey into Chinatown last year, they are very VERY proud of their heritage and long history and am very happy to have purchased a few items from this store. ♥️♥️♥️♥️

  • Trolololol Post author

    Wait are those people of all ethnicity coming together and buying items to support the store! How dare the racist! I was told by liberals and shameful anti-Americans living there it’s a racist country?

  • Red's Life Post author

    Why was there a great big story ad in the video….

  • dizkoteck Post author

    All those people sitting there are the same people driving people like her out of Chinatown.

  • Aimee Frorland Post author

    How cool and neat!

  • Jeffrey Muu Post author

    Mexico town?

  • MadMemeMan Post author

    Why not also make it a restaurant? partially?

  • Ursa Minor Post author


  • First name Last name Post author

    God she’s so pc

  • Jonathan F Post author

    This video is sweet. I hope they preserve their Chinatown and their cause grows.
    The local Chinatown where I live is quickly being encroached by luxury apartment complexes. Literally, buildings where low-income people scraped by, saved and built themselves up are being torn down in favor of creating huge multi-billion dollar high-rises. I actually had many friends (including those that lived and had their businesses in/near Chinatown) leave because it was getting too expensive just to survive.

  • GreenM&M_11 Post author

    Wonderful video ???❤️

  • Grant Post author

    ah…so she realized she can't piggy back off of her parents' store because they didn't know how to keep it running and she didn't want to lose some insane prime real estate in downtown Manhattan which could potentially make a lot of money, and here we are with this promotion video.

  • The Mellow Lyfe Post author

    Started in 1890! Wow.

  • Micheal L Post author

    Shes beautiful and her story is too

  • Lydia Casteel Post author

    I got to visit this beautiful store when I stayed for a week. They have such beautiful porcelain and art pieces, and they even told me about the project! I’m so glad they finally did a story on this incredible store.

  • Christine Clarke Post author

    I live in Manchester and we've always had a thriving Chinatown. I went to Liverpool a few weeks ago with a friend, expecting to see their famous Chinatown. We were very sad to see that there was almost nothing there, except a lot of new hipster coffee bars. I hope Manchester's Chinatown adapts and grows. Manchester wouldn't be Manchester without Chinatown.

  • sybol chris Post author

    its a little strang. mainland chinese youth want to buy all kinds of expensive porcelain made in japanese when chinese american still stick the old tradition from family .awesome.

  • Nunyo Bisnus Post author

    They’re talking mad shit for someone in bull rushing distance

  • Quan Nguyen Post author

    She is so lovely ❤

  • Erik Bakker Post author

    I'm not so impressed by the age; most buildings in my city are a lot older than that. Although 1890 is ancient for US standards.
    But the fact that it's been a family business for 130 years is just amazing! That's the actual impressive part.

  • sozoshi shonen Post author

    Wing On Wo,That’s canto(Cantonese) fo sho

  • gustya pratama Post author

    A great big story ad played before this

  • Tony mmm Post author

    Great work Mei

  • David Ev Post author

    Wow the undertone of this vid is hilarious. I didn't expect this from u G B S. U usually just stick to facts and stay away from toxicity.

  • boyishot69 Post author


  • AQuah Post author

    WOW … great vision and use of the space ??

  • A A P Post author

    Oh so gentrification is only okay in black and latino communities cool got it

  • Varun Yadav Post author

    Was so happy when she used news paper to pack, but broke my heart when she put it in a poly bag ☹️

  • I C Post author

    Proof that multiculturalism is a complete failure ..China Town is proof…Not assimilating to America,even after decades of citizenship….

  • Some guy with a Quantum Jail Post author

    Qing Jing Kong Jong Wong Fu Yung Hai Bakpao Bia Pong Pong Chin Ching Gong Xi Fa Chai Long Wung Youuu.. It's ok guys i'm Asian

  • FarewelI Post author

    So proud of Mei Lum! I'm so glad that there are Chinatowns in the Netherlands as well, there always seems a bunch of things to do and to see!

  • The W.O.W Project Post author

    If you are moved by our work and are compelled to support us in further building the W.O.W. Project, please donate to our annual fundraising campaign by following the link in our about page on our channel!

  • Super Saiyan Goku Post author


  • Jan Teo Post author

    I'm confused. Who is she saving the store from? Wasn't it her parents who wanted to sell it and the building in the first place?

  • Serena Rios Post author

    It's sad to see ethnic niches of big cities, squeezed out by changing demographics. These people are American, and they deserve to continue their legacy.

  • Daniel Chang Post author

    I can't wait to visit it!

  • Minda Kahn Post author

    It’s an amazing store. I used to go in st the end of my business day as a department store gift buyer. All of my blue and white China and temple jars come from this store. I’d hate to see it close.

  • ARMOR PIERCER Post author

    Allow the store to keep the sales taxes and the store will survive and thrive

  • Dab Plz Post author

    I been once i think

  • Neurotic Sos Post author

    The intonation and emphasis in her sentences seems so weird

  • Kanishka Wijesekara Post author

    WHat is this accent that I keep hearing with white college girls? These low base tones in this blonde barbie accent is incredibly annoying

  • GEGEGE NO KITARO Post author

    Chinese forms their own town anywhere.
    Half the shit she said is not true.
    All the Fentanil around the world is provided by Chinese…….

  • Dadson worldwide Post author

    Its great to be this way about your race and culture .I think all should ,i just wished that white people could celebrate our ancestrys without the hate groups or activism labeling stigmas like white supremacy .Or without NAACP legally attacking any group of whites who orginize more than a dozen whites at once.

  • I'm not sure Why Post author

    I now need to visit this today.

  • Mikey 718 Post author

    Them dam Jews all ways tryna kick people out they neighborhoods smh look what happened in brooklyn they everywhere

  • jon marie Post author

    Will definitely give this place a visit when I'm back in New York for school!

  • KoolKid_J Post author

    My dad works there!!!!!!

  • Lora Scelsi Post author

    History matters

  • Kami B Post author

    It's so interesting to see this! I pass by here all the time on the way to the arcade. It's usually closed. I hope you and your mission prospers!

  • James Moose Post author

    Gentrification/Displacement… A.K.A: No one wants porcelain anymore.

  • Ms. Smith Post author

    Lucky for them China town was not burned down

  • Ms. Smith Post author

    I wonder why would they come to America move to china town to learn about their culture and identity ?

  • tihi Post author

    Wing On Wo = Forever peaceful

  • Tamie Le Post author

    I live in NYC and hope to visit her storefront soon. She is doing wonderful things <3

  • FRANCO PEREZ Post author

    An irrefutable fact of reality is all neighborhoods change over time. Gentrification is not the only change a neighborhood can/will experience.

  • Fourleafclover kingdragonkillr Post author

    I love shops like this in my area

  • Elaine Gin Post author


  • Victor Sotomayer Post author

    Sadly alot of culture in general is disappearing around the city. Thanks for the people that are constantly moving into nyc who dont give a crap about culture or traditional and Just want their starbucks coffee every morning. Stores like these are gem to find in nyc. Unlike when i was a little boy you could find placed like these all over Chinatown. Its sad we have no more culture. America is dead.

  • Gail Remudaro Post author

    I always pass this store on my way to Hop Kee on Mott Street. Will definitely stop by next time.,

  • Death watch Post author

    Support local.

  • Katana Spice Post author

    This store won't last very long

  • hobbes2000 Post author

    Glad this story was made. As a first-gen Asian American, it's heart warming to hear and see stories like this because it preserves the cultural identity and experience of immigrants. Hope the store continues to operate for many, many more generations! Also what Mei Lum is doing with the WOW project is inspiring and great for the community!

  • Elena Kawaii Post author

    They really just need the place clean and organized. So they can be proud how it looks. Some owners at local places by me get use to their place by coming in everyday or ever so often and don’t notice things . For example dust. The tags of items . What kind of displays they used. Is the store presentable are the people presentable. How do the owners or employees treat you is a huge reflection of who they are. Having the one year event is great .

  • King’Kong' Quisha Post author

    China town is the dump of NYC

  • Babs DeMarco Post author

    I've visited this store countless times. As someone who's very out of touch with their Chinese roots, it's very inspiring and eye-opening to see how important Wing On Wo is to the Chinatown community. I don't know if I'll be broke or not the next time I'll go, but I'll definitely be more appreciative when I stop by :)))

  • Dean Cartwright Post author

    So like… why would anyone dislike this video? Wth

  • Michael Langley Post author

    I am glad to see asians like her not abandoning their roots and becoming white-washed. Shes a role model for future asian-americans because she continues her family legacy and even expands upon it. GJ!

  • Shinobi Post author

    The Chinatown in India is dying more like dead already.

  • Slowlikehoney Too Post author

    I am not Asian yet a native New Yorker and over the years Chinatown has been dwindling unfortunately, as a kid I remember my family going to Chinatown and how incredibly rich the community was in a sense of family.
    To pass down from generation to generation is wonderful and I wish my community was as inspiring.
    Great story as always, ty??

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