Last summer, I found myself taking the subway to random New York neighborhoods to visit the surviving members of a kind of store that was once ubiquitous: The Korean green grocery. Founded by immigrants from South Korea in the 1970s and 1980s, often in bad neighborhoods, these stores attracted controversy (particularly a string of boycotts). But they gave their owners a foothold in America. Now they’re declining. Why? Partly because New York is less hospitable to small retailers these days, But primarily because the children of Korean immigrants have gone on to bigger and better things: academia, medicine, or better-financed businesses. It’s a very American success story, and shows how immigration is supposed to work.
Anyway, it was a tough story — calling a place 10 times to speak to the owner and getting nothing. That sort of thing. But you can read the finished product, Where Did The Korean Greengrocers Go? on the City Journal website.