Sun Wing Wo General Store

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This image depicts one of the Chinese American Museum’s permanent exhibitions named the Sun Wing Wo General Store and Herb Shop. This exhibition is a recreation of an actual store that was housed in the Garnier Building in the 1890’s. The Garnier Building is now home to the Chinese American Museum in Los Angeles, CA. The Sun Wing Wo store opened in 1891, in this building, and remained here until 1948. The store was a multi-purpose space that showed how self-sufficient the Chinese were and had to be due to racism and discrimination, while also being responsive to the needs of their community. Even though the store predominantly served the Chinese, there were European, Japanese, and Mexican Americans who also came to purchase Chinese merchandise.

On one side of the gallery, not depicted here, people can find merchandise sold at the general store such as food, clothing, furniture, firecrackers, and dishes; they can also find western products that were popular at the time such as cigars and perfumed soaps. The store also provided banking, postal, and letter writing services for the community.

The Chinese American Museum has recreated the herb shop where Chinese could practice their traditional form of healthcare – Chinese Medicine. There were acupuncture services and prescriptions of herbal remedies provided.

Place(s): Los Angeles, CA

– Justin Charles Hoover, Chinese American Museum, Los Angeles

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