Joanne Kwong, the president of Pearl River Mart, rings in Lunar New Year and celebrates 51 years in business.

Pearl River Mart features innovative merchandise created by Asian Americans. Featuring home furnishings, fashion, snacks and many other items, the iconic Asian emporium has multiple locations across Manhattan.

Kwong discussed how the pandemic devastated businesses across Chinatown, including her own, during the pandemic.

Generations of Chinatown residents came together for “Light Up Chinatown.”

Kwong talked about that and some of the other initiatives that helped keep Chinatown alive and support local businesses.

Founded as a “friendship” store in 1971 by her in-laws, Kwong discussed what a radical idea it was at the time, as diplomatic relations between China and the United States were frozen and direct trade was strictly forbidden.

She talked about the evolution of the family business and what it symbolizes for the AAPI community.