Koreans still dominate the small-grocery business in New York; the Korean Produce Association estimates that they own 70 percent of the city’s stores. But their ranks are thinning as they face the same forces that threaten all sorts of mom-and-pop businesses: rising rents, increased competition from online and corporate rivals, and more scrutiny from city agencies that impose fines.
The stores are also succumbing to the same impulse that prompted Mom and Pop to open them in the first place: the desire to see their children do much, much better.
The Korean-American Grocers Association of New York has about half as many active members as the nearly 600 it had a decade ago, and its president, Chong Sik Lee, says corner stores will eventually have to expand into supermarkets or close.
“In 10 years, there will be no more Korean mom-and-pop stores,” Mr. Lee said.
In 10 years there will be no more small family businesses of any type. Who will be left to create the jobs and teach the trade other than the government?