Shopping at Giant Foods
Chinese American Supermarkets in Northern California
Publication Year: 2003
Published by: University of Washington Press
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...teresting and engaging topic. For over twenty years I was solidly involved inthe Chinese American grocery and supermarket business. After graduatingfrom college with a bachelor of science degree in 1973, I went to work for aChinese American supermarket chain in the Sacramento area. This was meantto be a temporary job while I searched for a professional career that was con-...
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...vicissitudes. At times I felt overwhelmed and discouraged, but many friendsand colleagues encouraged and prodded me along. I must thank StevenAvella, Bing Fun Cheng, Sandra Chim, Rosemary Flemmer, Kenneth Luk,and Lewis Robinson. My mentor, Kenneth Owens, gave me invaluableI wish to thank my graduate school adviser at Ohio State University, Pro-...
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...share for about the next four decades, Chinese American supermarkets wereprominent operations in small, medium, and large cities throughout NorthernCalifornia. Until recently, they were so well established that there were veryfew residents who did not shop in one of them or know about them. Thesesupermarkets were located in nearly every community and were able to pros-...
1 / Supermarkets
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...have largely ignored them as institutions worthy of study. This is a seriousoversight, because supermarkets are barometers ofthe local communities inwhich they do business. Supermarkets reﬂect their communities’ status, devel-oping and evolving in step with local socioeconomic conditions. They fulﬁllDuring the two decades following World War II, which were character-...
2 / Community, Employment, and Enterprise
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...fornia communities lived fairly quiet lives from the 1930s to the mid-1960s.Their population increased slowly because ofdisproportionate gender ratiosand restrictive immigration laws, and then rose quickly in the years follow-ing World War II, primarily because ofchanges to these social and statutorychecks. Other than political activities in support ofthe Chinese’s effort to ﬁght...
3 / Beginnings
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...modest. None of the founders had speciﬁc plans, let alone grand goals, inmind. They were just trying to make as much money as possible with theopportunities and resources available to them. The early success of ChineseAmerican grocery stores and later supermarkets had as much to do withunique circumstances, timing, and luck as it did with astute decisions and...
4 / Golden Times
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...proliferation and prosperity for Chinese American supermarkets took place.Business was simply great. These were the “golden times” for the operators.Their supermarkets reigned supreme in markets throughout NorthernCalifornia, competing directly against national chains, local chains, and localindependents in small and large communities. They led with their particu-...
5 / Decline and Passing
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...not come without foreboding signs. Some operators were astute, saw the por-tentous “handwriting on the wall,” and got out of the business while theycould still proﬁt favorably from selling their supermarkets. Some wereblinded by past success and ignored the need to adapt to the rapid changesaround them to remain competitive. Quite possibly, they thought that they...
6 / Employees and Salesmen
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Chinese American supermarkets. Employers needed and used the low-costlabor of Chinese American employees to make good proﬁts, but they laterregarded the rising cost ofemployee labor as one ofthe chiefcauses oftheirdecline. In retrospect, it was not so much that Chinese American employees’labor cost was too high as it was that their compensation rose and workload...
7 / Chinese Management and Labor Unions
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...supermarkets was in many ways different from and yet similar to that oftheircompetitors. Management ofpersonnel was deﬁnitely different, which ofteninvoked reproaches from competitors and labor unions. But to the employ-ers, their management was nothing out of the ordinary, but a standardmodus operandi that came from the old country. Because entrepreneur-...
8 / Stop-N-Shop
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...supermarket business in Sacramento and other Northern California com-munities until the mid-1970s. National chain supermarkets like Safeway andLucky had difﬁculty securing a strong presence in Sacramento, which yieldedthe metropolitan market to Chinese American stores and other local com-panies, such as Vans, Holiday, Mayfair, Bi-Rite, Raley’s, Compton’s, and Stop-...
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...markets and supermarket chains in Northern California had effectivelyended. The national chain companies and a large local chain company, Raley’s,garnered the largest share ofthe market and continued to expand with theirsuperstores, not supermarkets. The early, small supermarkets, Famous FoodMarkets, Farmers Market, and Giant Foods, went out ofbusiness. Their pass-...
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All of the local supermarket chains in this study have gone out of business or have different ownership, except for Raley’s, which continues to expand and prosper, opening new stores and acquiring other chains. At the end of 2001, the company had sales of $3 billion and about 17,000 employees at 148 stores:...
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Publication Year: 2003
Series Title: The Scott and Laurie Oki Series in Asian American Studies