Saturday 2021 Small Business Shopping Guide: Chinatown San Francisco

Welcome to America’s oldest Chinatown. Founded in the 1840s, this historic district of San Francisco has been home to everything from banquet halls and awe-inspiring parades to underground vice activities. As one of the city’s top tourist destinations, the decline in activity during the ongoing pandemic has been devastating, with the loss of tourism compounded by anti-Asian racism and hate crimes. While the economy has reopened more in recent months, the recovery has been slow for small Chinatown businesses that have managed to survive here in SF and across the country.

“Our activity has slowed down enormously. Last year was the first year we have closed in over 60 years of continuous service to the community, ”said Kevin Chan, owner of the Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory. “This year is picking up,” he continues, although he cites problems with Google, which until recently had classified the company as still closed, to deter potential customers. Roger Pincombe, the new CEO of The great theater of the stars, which just reopened in June, says “July to September was pretty tough” and business has only picked up in the last month or so. Still, there is an encouraging, albeit slow, upward economic trend.

Spending a day or a night sightseeing in Chinatown will be packed with food and photo-worthy sites, from community-sponsored murals to street musicians. This Small Business Saturday and throughout the holiday season, consider supporting the local businesses below for your giveaway needs instead of the giants like Amazon. Grant Avenue is closed to traffic on weekends and will be closed until the end of the year at least, so make the most of it. Pick a starting point (probably Portsmouth Square) and start walking to see what appears along the way. Don’t forget to also visit the countless grocery stores in Chinatown, where you can buy Chinese snacks like White Rabbit candy and mini lychee gelatin cups that make great stocking stuffers.

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