Customers came here with $50 and left with a boat full of treats.
A long-time family-owned kitchenware company is choosing to leave Chinatown this summer after 27 years in business.
Tinland Kitchen Utensils, at 260 E Pender St, is like a treasure hunt for those who love food and cooking. With over 10,000 affordable products to choose from, the store offers one of the widest selections of Asian cookware and food equipment in Vancouver.
The local kitchen store 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 to provide affordable quality products.
After the family immigrated to Vancouver in 1992, they continued the family legacy. They continued to serve the local community by opening the Attinson store in Richmond in 1993, and a second location, Tinland, in Chinatown in 1994.
However, the iconic kitchen store is saying goodbye to the community in Vancouver’s Chinatown and moving its business completely 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 said Glacier Media in a previous interview that before she closed her business, thieves repeatedly targeted the store and got away with various items, with her boyfriend repeatedly having to chase them away. 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.
#VPDScanner: #VPD investigating three nightly arson attacks in Chinatown. Officers on foot patrol discovered two burning rubbish containers near Main and East Pender just after 8pm yesterday. A third fire was discovered two hours later nearby. Fortunately, no injuries were reported. pic.twitter.com/8uBTiVOKvZ
— Vancouver Police (@VancouverPD) April 5, 2022
Last year, one weekday afternoon, Glacier Media counted 27 storefronts along Pender between Columbia and Main streets that were either vacant, behind locked metal doors, or with “for rent” signs on them.
According to a previous report, between January 1, 2016 and June 15, 2021, Vancouver police statistics show that recorded crimes in Chinatown include 578 cases of car burglaries, 360 assaults and 239 business burglaries.
Several traders said Glacier Media the same message: 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 to the neighborhood, it is far from “solving” the problem, VPD Deputy Chief Howard Chow said.
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.
With files by Mike Howell