Sibling-owned San Francisco bookstore celebrates Asian American experience

A one-of-a-kind bookstore and gift shop in San Francisco's Chinatown celebrates the Asian American experience.

Sisters Cynthia and Jennifer Huie, Chinese-Americans, co-own the store named On Waverly.

They said they wanted a place for the community to gather.

The Huie sisters said they wanted to create a business that would help revitalize Chinatown and promote unity.

Located in the heart of Chinatown, the store sells primarily Asian-made goods. It opened last December.

On Friday night, the sisters hosted a special event featuring the creators of products focusing on the Cantonese dialect.

The sisters grew up in Fremont and both now live in San Francisco.

They said their shop attracts customers from different parts of the city, all across the Bay Area and beyond.

"Love having conversations with the customers and sharing stories about our families," said Jennifer Huie.

A store that tells the stories of the Asian American experience.

"I don't think growing up, there were bookstores and gift stores that I personally could relate to" said Jennifer Huie.

The sisters said they wanted to open a store in Chinatown, a place they visited with their families while they were growing up.

"What's unique about us is we're here to create connections, not just promote the latest book," said Cynthia Huie.

What she is promoting are community-oriented solutions to anti-Asian sentiment.

She co-created what she calls the Unity Road Trip with the help of an African American community leader.

Last summer, they took five Chinese American and five African American high school students on a trip to different parts of the country and beyond.

"How do we bring two groups of people together, so they can build real friendships and learn about their own histories," said Cynthia Huie.

Stops included a mosque in Chicago, a visit to New York to see the Harriet Tubman statue and Chicago to meet with a female neuroscientist.

Cynthia Huie said it's a way to encourage high school girls from under-served families to consider careers in traditionally male-dominated industries.

A precursor to the road trip is a visit to the Bay View neighborhood in San Francisco.

"We want them to have an experience where they can meet community leaders and activists," she said."Meet congresspeople. People who are really making a difference," said Huie.

She said her passion for the Unity Road Trip shares the same goal as her business: building bridges and embracing cultural differences.

This summer, Huie plans to expand the program to host a total of 12 girls instead of 10.

The program is funded with the help of a state grant.

Amber Lee is a reporter with KTVU. Email Amber at or text/leave message at 510-599-3922. Follow her on Facebook @AmberKTVU,  Instagram @AmberKTVU  or Twitter @AmberKTVU.