Pearl River in 2023: A Year in Review
Another year on the books! It's time to celebrate some of our favorite moments from 2023. Thanks to all who have continued to support, encourage, and cheer us on along the way!
Our first art exhibition of the year reminded us 'Our Roots Run Deep'
It was such an honor to exhibit the work of renowned sculptor Warren King. OUR ROOTS RUN DEEP: Finding Home in Chinatown featured a series of distinctive life-sized and smaller scale sculptures as well as wall-hanging pieces, all only of cardboard and glue.
The works depicted residents of nearby Chinatown — women engaged in lively conversation, a hardworking fish vendor, players and spectators of an intense game of Chinese chess — and are a tribute to the people who anchor the community.
We launched a special Friendship Box with some special friends
Teaming up with our favorite family who cooks, we launched The Woks of Life x Pearl River Mart Pantry Essentials Box. All the items were handpicked by Bill, Judy, Sarah, and Kaitlin Leung, the family behind the wildly popular The Woks of Life blog.
We hopped in with the Year of the Rabbit
We rang in Lunar New Year day with lion dancing at our Soho store from longtime friends, the Wan Chi Ming Dragon Lion Dance Team (who by the way celebrated their 50th anniversary this year!). Then we hosted our annual Lunar New Year extravaganza at Chelsea Market with plenty of lucky foods, libations, and more lion dancing.
We celebrated spring with new ceramics
This year we introduced a new collection of ceramics from Jingdezhen, China, known as "the porcelain capital." Each piece was carefully selected — our multigenerational buying team had many spirited discussions while choosing them! They had to be culturally significant but also have a modern edge. Unique but also classic. A perfect fit for small NYC apartments and larger homes alike.
The result was a tightly curated collection, which in a way represents the new Pearl River. Traditional and contemporary. Celebrating the past but also moving forward. Multiple generations working together to create something meaningful.
We held our inaugural warehouse sale
New van, who dis?
We unveiled a newly designed van! From oversized truck to streamlined van, Mr. Chen's wheels for transporting items from store to store have never looked more stylish.
We got ragey with a 'Beef' pop-up
Partnering with Netflix on this pop-up for "Beef" — the amazing series starring two of our all-time faves, Ali Wong and Steven Yeun — was so much fun. And we admit we enjoyed walloping the punching bag a little too much.
We hosted TWO art exhibitions with dear friend Arlan Huang
JUST BETWEEN US — co-curated by Howie Chen and Danielle Wu — featured just some of the works amassed by Arlan over 40 years, most of it attained through friendly "art swaps" with friends and fellow artists. Some of the pieces could also be seen on outdoor tables throughout the Meatpacking district.
CORRIDOR GLANCE showcased Arlan's own oil paintings and evoked the dreamy romance of Wong Kar-wai's classic film, In the Mood for Love.
We tabled at TAAF and hosted our second annual Sunset Celebration
May was a busy month as we participated in the marketplace for the Asian American Foundation’s first annual Heritage Month Summit and Celebration, and co-hosted our second annual Sunset Celebration with Lunar Hard Seltzer and Gold House, serving up eats and drinks from over 30 restaurants and small businesses.
We welcomed Kabisera and the Laksa Shop to Little Eats 小吃
We continued to showcase new vendors in Little Eats 小吃, our "substantial snacks" booth in Pearl River Mart Foods. This summer we partnered with Kabisera to bring halo halo to the masses while currently the Laksa Shop with its delectable Malaysian coconut curry noodles have set up shop.
Pearl River Mart Foods got beery!
It took a while but we finally got our beer license at Pearl River Mart Foods! Now you can get classics like Tsingtao and Sapporo; fun new booze, like Jasmine Tea Lager and Puffed Rice Chinese Pale Ale from Master Gao Beer, and Hitachino Nest White Ale from Kiuchi Brewery; and beverages from AAPI-owned businesses such as Lunar Hard Seltzer and Makku.
We had plenty of employee shenanigans
From our annual staff dinner (complete with karaoke) to happy hour (what better way to celebrate our beer license?) to hot pot to our first managers' outing to Halloween, there was plenty of employee fun to be had.
We got cool with summer fashion
We welcomed back fashion photographer extraordinaire Pascal Perich and Pearl River model and granddaughter Emilee to shoot our summer fashion collection. Joining Emilee was Tatsuya King, the son of former Pearl River artist-in-residence Warren King. Check out all the fits!
The Chens took a vacation
If you know Pearl River founders Mr. and Mrs. Chen, you know this is monumental. For the first time in many years, they took a well-deserved vacation. They saw the sights in Tibet, then met up with daughter-in-law (and Pearl River president) Joanne Kwong and her family in China. We hope this was just the first of many vacations to come!
We celebrated the Mid-Autumn Festival with very special mooncakes
This year we were over the moon to offer specialty Vietnamese mooncakes (taste-tested by Pearl River staff of course) from Ăn Xôi, a popup from the folks behind Van Van, as well as classics from our longtime friends at Kitsby.
We honored dear friend Anne Saxelby
Last year was the inaugural Anne Saxelby Legacy Fund benefit, and this year we were so pleased to participate again. Not only did we love sharing delicious food from chef, cookbook author, and Pearl River creative manager Christine Wong and Pearl River Mart Foods vendors Mao's Bao, Kimbap Lab, Tea and Milk, we REALLY enjoyed partaking in all the eats and drinks from the over 100 chefs and restaurants throughout Chelsea Market.
We had some 'Spirit Dreams'
Our third and current art exhibition features the stunning portraiture of Korean American artist Julia Chon and explores the interweaving of ancestry and diaspora, the past and the present, traditions and contemporary life. In the way that a mudang, or medium in Korean shamanism, acts as a bridge between the spiritual and mundane so Ms. Chon's work connects generations across space and time.
SPIRIT DREAMS: Where Ancestors Come to Speak is on view in our Soho gallery through Jan. 21.
Our president got double honors
Kudos to Pearl River president Joanne Kwong! First she gave an insightful, funny, and moving talk at Changemakers Chat and then was honored at the Asian American Arts Alliance 40th anniversary gala. Congrats Joanne!
We helped Fly By Jing celebrate their cookbook
We hosted tastings throughout the year at Pearl River Mart Foods
Our free tastings series at Pearl River Mart Foods has become one of our favorite activities. It's been so fun welcoming vendors to share their treats with customers, including Twrl Milk Tea, Bowlcut, KimlyParc, Tasting India, Mama Lam's, Makku, Confusion Snacks, Rooted Fare, Anna Ye Tea, and more! Can't wait for next year's lineup!
We popped up in Queens!
Queens has become a second home to us between our warehouse and manager outings (and not to mention Joanne's roots in the borough). So a popup in the Tangram shopping center in downtown Flushing was the perfect fit! Open at least until after Lunar New Year.
Whew, that's it for 2023! Happy new year and see you in 2024![Lead image: Chefs, entrepreneurs, and Pearl River Mart staff at the second annual Sunset Celebration]