“It’s so bad in all of Chinatown that everyone is afraid to come here, and it’s not fair for people to live in fear”
A longtime family-owned kitchenware business will join an exodus of businesses from Chinatown this summer, citing high crime rates and general street disorder.
Tinland Kitchen Utensilsat 260 E Pender St, is a family business with a 70-year heritage. Tin, the father of the Shum family, started the cookware business in Hong Kong in the 1950s and opened Tinland in 1994.
However, the iconic kitchen store is saying goodbye to Vancouver’s Chinatown and moving its business to Richmond.
The reason for leaving? Public safety concerns – due to a combination of drug-fueled street unrest and a pandemic-triggered rise in anti-Asian racism that has plagued the historic community in recent years.
“It’s just a bad situation there. There’s no life there now,” said Jin Li, who closed his Chinese Art Crafts store in Chinatown in 2020 after 15 years on East Pender.
Li told Glacier Media in a previous interview that before closing her business, thieves repeatedly targeted the store and got away with various items, with her boyfriend having to chase them down several times. Worse still, Li was once knocked to the ground after a man tried to steal a ninja sword.
Family owned Ultimate 24K Gold Company Ltd. also moved its business to Richmond in July 2020 after 28 years in business.
“We’re a very traditional business, and if we have to leave, it’s a big shock to Chinatown because we’ve been there for so long,” said Cici Yim, a family member who operated the store.
During COVID, Yim has seen three burglaries at her store where some of the merchandise was lost and the store’s metal door was damaged beyond repair.
Several store owners delivered the same message to Glacier Media: Chinatown looks dead and they’re “hanging by a thread.” Some of them felt even more vulnerable than before, as more shops were closing and fewer traders were monitoring each other in the area.
Last year, the Chinatown Business Improvement Association spent half of its annual budget — about $240,000 — on additional security for Chinatown.
“It’s so bad all over Chinatown that everyone is afraid to come here, and it’s not right for people to live in fear,” said Fred Kwok, president of the Chinese Benevolent Association.
“Feces, urine, graffiti, theft and burglary are modern-day racism against the Chinese community,” Kwok said at a forum last year. “All we want is to be treated fairly and equitably. How many times do I have to endure the hateful slurs thrown in my face as I walk the streets I’ve called home for 40 years? »
Although the Vancouver Police Department (VPD) has deployed more police resources and foot patrols in the neighborhood, he is far from “fixing” the problem, said Deputy Chief of the VPD, Howard Chow.
The VPD has been pushing governments for years to better respond to the mental illness, addiction and homelessness crises in Chinatown, but the lobbying has been like ‘pushing the waters up’, according to Chow .
It was “heartbreaking to see what’s going on in Chinatown,” Chow said in a tweet.
Tinland Cookware will close its Vancouver location on August 31, 2022.