Woman seeks to help save her grandmother's longtime San Francisco business

A granddaughter has launched an effort to try and help her 82-year-old grandmother keep her longtime San Francisco business open. (GoFundMe: https://www.gofundme.com/f/help-save-my-grandmas-local-shop-in-san-francisco / Amy Luong)

The granddaughter of a San Francisco store owner has launched an effort to help her grandmother keep her nearly 30-year-old business open.

Amy Luong said her grandmother's business has been struggling since the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The 82-year-old business owner, Kao Chung, was forced to close down two of her three Gold Star Discount Store locations. Chung told KTVU that with the remaining store, she had to downsize and relocate to a nearby, smaller space on Eighth Avenue and Clement Street in the city’s Richmond District. 

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On social media, her granddaughter shared that the grandmother of 10 opened the business after immigrating to the U.S. from Vietnam with her husband.

Over the years, the business not only helped her grandmother raise a family of 21 people under one roof, it was a breeding ground for cherished childhood memories for Luong’s siblings and her cousins. 

"We celebrated our birthday here on cardboard boxes," Luong said in a video posted last month, explaining that for the family, the store also came to symbolize what it meant to build a life in America. 

"From one generation to next, each of us grew up with our grandma’s hopes and dreams of being in America," Luong shared. 

The business, described as an Asian variety store, carries a wide range of items, from pots and pans to slippers, soaps, decorations, as well as kitchen supplies and even chairs.

"It’s a neat little shop, and you can find so many things that you might not even know you needed," Luong said.

In addition to taking a hit from the pandemic, the business has had a difficult time competing with bigger retailers and online outlets like Amazon. 

"She mentioned that new larger shops have opened and have made it more difficult for her smaller shop to stay open," Luong shared on a GoFundMe that she started last month. "I've had many of you ask me if she has an online website, unfortunately she is just a small locally owned business without any online presence," she said. 

The granddaughter said she launched the fundraising effort after many inquiries from people who wanted to help. Luong said all donations would go straight to keeping the store going. 

She said her grandmother told her that if business remained slow, she would be forced to shut down after this year. "But she's still trying her best to go strong!" Luong said.

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Chung told KTVU that she had no desire to stop working or "stay at home" and that she wanted to continue to run her business as long as she could. 

To help her accomplish that goal, Luong invited folks to stop by, check out the store, and even take a moment to say hello to her grandmother and role model.

"She is over 80+ years old and runs the shop herself out of pure love and is the hardest working person I know," Luong shared.

And when shoppers stop by the Gold Star Discount Store, and perhaps find those items that they didn’t even realize they needed, they might also find a warm place of business that was a dream fulfilled for the owner and for her grandkids, a place where love grew.

"We didn't know it then, but our grandma created a home, a safe place where we could play, laugh, enjoy time with little to nothing," Luong reflected. "It was our home. And it was my grandma’s version of the American dream."