Thursday, May 20, 2010

Chinatown in LA

An enclave is “an enclosed territory that is culturally distinct from the foreign territory that surrounds it” (Enclave). Chinatown in Los Angeles is one of the many enclaves that exist. I had to do a project on an enclave and it was on Chinatown in LA.

Chinatown is full of businesses, many that are small family owned businesses. Although from an outside view, it seems very successful due to its busyness with a constant flow of customers, it’s not as it seems. After interviewing the only person that seemed to speak English fluently, I learned a lot about the common challenges they face.

The types of the businesses I focused on were the herb markets, little shops and the little cart full of merchandise. It seemed that those types of business were the most prominent. It was clear that the business is catered towards immigrants and tourist, which is great for them, but limits the different variety of customers. Even though incoming tourists will always stay consistent, Chinatowns is one of many places for tourism.

Chinatown is a place for immigrants to feel at home away from home, so to take that away would eventually take them away as customers. Although catering to immigrants limits their customers, it keeps their customers to stay loyal.

I interviewed a couple different store owners/employees and paraphrased their responses. They wanted to keep their names anonymous, but I hope you enjoy!

At the herb market I asked about their advantages and their challenges.
The market consists of a variety of types of herbs.

They benefit because their local customers buy their products consistently. Their customers benefit by these markets because other markets do not sell a lot of the same products.

Unfortunately they had a couple of challenges, such as: customers hesitate on buying the herbs, language barrier, and their biggest challenge is that the herbs are not FDA approved. Due to Prop 65, they have to put up signage informing their customers that their herbs are not FDA approved causing more hesitation.

The little shops mostly consisted of toys, counterfeit products, plants, jewelry, products for good luck, and tourist types of merchandise. I asked them about their advantages and their challenges.

They also benefit because they have a consistent flow of local customers. Due to Chinatown being a tourist place, they do get a lot of tourists and they are the ones that bring in most of their business.

Their challenges are the language barrier and all the other neighboring stores sell similar if not same products which cause competition within one another.

I also interviewed the small businesses that were frequent were the little carts full of merchandise. It’s just like the small stores but in a cart. The carts usually consisted of plants, jewelry, baby pets, products of good luck, and tourist types of merchandise. I also asked them their advantages and challenges.

They benefit also by having the consistent flow of local and tourist customers.

Their challenges were the language barrier, people always tried to bargain the prices, and the competition with neighboring little shops and the other carts that sold similar merchandise.

Chinatown is a great place to go to shop, eat, and walk around. I recommend people stepping out and visiting different enclaves. It not only is a good reason to go out but a great way to be a little more aware of others’ cultures and heritage.

Work Cited
"Enclave - Definition of Enclave - Synonyms, Pronunciation, Spelling from." Free Dictionary.
Web. 01 May 2010. .

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