It’s 7 a.m., 50° and headed to 58°. Details for the next 10 days are here.
I love this story of Duc Loi from the Mission Economic Development Agency, which calls the grocery store at 18th and Mission streets “the perfect model for a 2014 Mission District business.”
We’ve long been fans of the owners Howard and Amanda Ngo, who are featured in our zine My Mission, but I didn’t know the story of how they met and here, Howard Ngo talks about their start in Vietnam.
It all started in Vietnam, where Amanda and I were neighbors in Vĩnh Châu, at the southern tip of the country. In 1975, right after the war, times became very difficult, so we both came to the States as refugees. I wound up in the Deep South at first, in a place called Waycross, Georgia, before taking a bus across the country to San Francisco, where Amanda had been initially sent. We eventually started dating and married in 1989, although we opened our first store two years prior. Amanda had seen an ad in the newspaper for a Vietnamese market for sale on Mission between 18th and 19th streets. We decided to give it a try, but lost money the first two years, when we couldn’t even afford to hire an employee to help us. It was difficult, but we persevered and eventually learned how to successfully run a business. My father and grandfather owned stores in Vietnam, so maybe I inherited my business sense.
The Ngos belong to a cadre of Mission businesses that take giving back seriously. Duc Loi means “ethical earnings” and the Ngos have always sought to serve the entire community — from hipster to homeless. The whole interview with MEDA, which advised the owners when they wanted to build a new store, is here.
Why ruin a perfectly inspiring start to the weekend with anything else. Enjoy!