Counterfeits and counterfeiting
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2008.040.003 Oral History Interview with Ching Yeh Chen February 6, 2008

Born in Chongqing, China and raised in Taiwan, Ching Yeh Chen came to the United States in 1971 to pursue a graduate and masters degree. Chen finally settled in New York and joined her husband operating a retail corporation, Pearl River Market, which was officially founded in 1980. Discussing the history of Pearl River, Chen explains that the corporation had been created to introduce the “real China” to the American society, since as Chen argues there was no significant relationship between the two countries at that time. Some of the challenges the company confronted included government suspicions, increasing rent prices, and an ever-changing customer base. Chen describes Chinatown as being a relatively unsafe environment during the seventies and eighties, which she believes began to change in 1990. She also describes both the rise of the American tourist clientele during the 1990s and the shrinking Chinese garment factory customer base. Finally, she predicts that after a decade, when their lease expires, Pearl River may fade away, as she and her husband will be reaching retirement age and the business will not be handed down to their children. Nonetheless, from her perspective, change is invaluable and Chinatown businesses and residents must be open to the neighborhood evolving – “that’s the challenge, that’s the pressure, that’s the fun.”