Flushing Supermarkets See a New Player

Hong Kong Supermarket has been renamed to Hong Kong Good Fortune Supermarket (Photo by Peter Chu via World Journal)

Hong Kong Supermarket has been renamed to Hong Kong Good Fortune Supermarket (Photo by Peter Chu via World Journal)

[Editor’s note: Numerous Chinese supermarkets have sprung up in New York during the past three decades, winning over customers with fresh and exotic food. But there is stiff competition among the owners, who come from different regions of China. A recent example is that of Hong Kong Supermarket in Flushing, owned by immigrants from Hong Kong, which was taken over by another supermarket chain, Good Fortune, owned by immigrants from Wenzhou in southeastern China. Flushing, already a food haven, may benefit. Here is the story from World Journal.]

Customers of Hong Kong Supermarket, which had been operating in Flushing for 20 years, recently saw that the shop’s name has been changed to Hong Kong Good Fortune Supermarket (…) Kuanhe Wo, president of Good Fortune, said he will invest a lot of money to renovate the supermarket, provide a broad variety of food, and turn the basement area into a food court to woo the gastronauts of New York with diverse choices.

World Journal gave some background information on Hong Kong Supermarket in another story.

Hong Kong Supermarket in Flushing was established by Chinese-American businessman Jeffrey Wu in 1996, the same year he married renowned Hong Kong actress Veronica Yip. It was big news in the Chinese community then. The supermarket chain owned 22 stores in the U.S. in its heyday. But Hu’s failure with Victoria Tower, his real estate development project, plus the rise of supermarket chains run by Wenzhou immigrants, had a damaging effect on Hong Kong Supermarket in recent years.

Over the past year, even on weekends, supposedly the busiest time for supermarkets, the store in Flushing often only had two to three cashiers working. Since March, its Flushing and Elmhurst stores were a mess as the shelves were painted red, items were piled on the floor and the frozen section seemed empty.

The scene lasted until Wo, a businessman from Wenzhou, and his Good Fortune chain took over the Flushing store in October.

Good Fortune was founded by Wo and several other shareholders in 2012. With headquarters in New York, the chain expanded to New Jersey, Virginia, California, Rhode Island, Texas and Massachusetts with more than a dozen stores in the past three years. In the past year, two Hong Kong supermarket stores in California were taken over by Good Fortune. Both celebrated their grand opening in May.

Wo, who started his business as a street vendor selling fruits and vegetables, said on Nov. 1 that he is a business partner of Wu, the owner of Hong Kong Supermarket. The new name of the store in Flushing has kept the words “Hong Kong” to offer old customers a sense of familiarity. He said he knew nothing about the previous messy layout of the store, but since he took over a month ago, the shelves have been changed and filled up. The frozen section is still under renovation, which may last for one or two months.

Wo said a major change of the store is in the basement section, which will be turned into a food court. Previously the basement was divided into booths and rented out to 12 businesses including a video rental show, a furniture shop and a foot spa. Now the leases have all been terminated. The new owner plans to turn it into a food area with 23 shops and 400 seats, an operation that will bring the third food court to Flushing after the New World Mall Food Court and the New York Food Court.

Wo said he believes the food market in Flushing will keep growing, a prosperity guaranteed by the emergence of commercial and residential buildings in this neighborhood. Wo said the basement project may take a while because he needs to install gas pipes, ovens and electrical cables, and the regulation of kitchen renovation is very strict in New York. “We have to apply for permits and wait for inspections while we do the renovation,” he said, so the renovation won’t start until at least next year.

Hong Kong Supermarket has two other stores in Elmhurst, Queens, and in Chinatown. The staff at the Chinatown one said they don’t know whether they’ll be taken over by Good Fortune too. And the Elmhurst store has been undergoing renovation since March. The shelves are empty and the 60 employees have been reduced to five people. Now the store is shut with only a vegetable and fruit stand outside.

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