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2008.040.004 Oral History Interview with Francis Tso July 13, 2010

Francis Tso moved to the United States from Hong Kong in 1976, and settled two year later in Chinatown. For over thirty years, he and his wife have run a newsstand located on Canal Street that was handed down from Tso’s father and leased through the city. Tso portrays Chinatown as a haven for those who do not speak English and, while he says he has seen an increase in business at his stand as a result of development in the area, he also realizes that many non-English speakers are finding it increasingly difficult to stay in Chinatown. They are in an especially hard situation, he says, because their lack of English knowledge prohibits them from moving elsewhere. Over the thirty years that Tso has lived and worked in Chinatown, he has seen many buildings and business dissolved or torn down. As his stand is on Canal Street, he has also witnessed firsthand the increase in the counterfeit market on Canal. Again, Tso sees two sides to the issue. While more customers at the counterfeit stands means more potential customers at his newsstand, he would like to see a community center built in Chinatown that could offer a place for young people to “hang out”—keeping them away from the counterfeit market. When asked if he might consider retiring, Tso firmly answers that he will continue to operate the stand as long as he is physically able, even though none of his children are interested in running the stand themselves.