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Seattle's Viet-Wah supermarket closes permanently

caption: Viet-Wah Asian Supermarket in Seattle's Little Saigon neighborhood in 2022. 
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Viet-Wah Asian Supermarket in Seattle's Little Saigon neighborhood in 2022.
Credit: Jason Pagano / KUOW

When their shift ends at 7 p.m. Friday night, owners and employees at the Viet-Wah store located in Seattle's Little Saigon will close its doors permanently.

The Asian food supermarket has operated at this location along South Jackson Street for nearly four decades. The land is now slated to be developed to make way for housing, retail, and parking.

The countertops at the store show the wear of almost 40 years of customer service. Leeching Tran is the Vice President of Viet-Wah Supermarket, and the daughter of Duc Tran, founder of the grocery store. Tran grew up at this store and says she’ll really miss the regulars.

“You know, it's familiar faces, people you know, and recognize and you look forward to seeing every time you come here, so that's gonna be hard I think," Tran said, adding that one of the unique things about Viet-Wah's Seattle location is the range of languages that can be heard among the aisles.

“Not just English or Vietnamese, but you hear Mandarin, Cantonese, Taishanese, my family speaks Teochew," she said. "We have customers from all different nationalities and ethnicities, which is really cool.”

Tran’s aunt June Huynh hasn’t been able to sleep for the past two days, saddened by the store's closing. Huynh has worked at the location since 1989. Between the pandemic and hate crimes, Huynh says they’ve seen a dramatic drop in customers.

The owners say they’ve lost a lot of business due to the pandemic and the increase in anti-Asian hate crimes.

After the store closes, Tran says staff will go out to dinner at a local restaurant to mark their decades in the area.

Viet-Wah’s Renton location will remain open.