The Challenging Nineties

Hongkong to America

Excerpt from the Book, "My Incredible Life Journey"

[additional writings by Juana, William, Walden, Walter, Winston to our best recollection]

[Walter -- After spending 2 weeks in New York, we flew to California, and stayed with a family friend (Saku's friend, Miguel and Nene) residence in the city of Hacienda Heights.

 

[William -- Uncle Miguel and Auntie Nene, are the nicest friends we have. I stayed with them on my first trip to the USA in 1978. They took me in and took care of me for several months.]

Arriving at the LAX airport in April 15, 1988, accompanied by my wife and my army of enthusiastic American-leaning children, I have nothing but hopes and aspiration. Hope that a new beginning will drive us to higher grounds. We stayed at the Lincoln Hotel in Monterey Park. Looking up to adapting to the American standard, I bought a White Cadillac (with a personalized plate LIMA 1). This should take us to the highest grounds we need to go. We later moved to  a much less expensive motel -- Lai Lai Inn in Moterey Park Road, and finally found an apartment in Cogswell, El Monte. We excitedly moved in to the almost new apartment.

With the remaining inventory of jewelries that we brought from Hong Kong, we were all set, ready to go. I started looking for an store front outlet. And before long, we opened up a jewelry booth, 8" x 8" space in the downtown corner St Vincent corner Wilshire Blvd. It seemed to be the most ideal place to run a jewelry business, it was a jewelry center -- every single shop in that floor were offering jewelries for wholesale and retail. I later realized that window shopper were few, buyers were almost none, and competition were all over the place, right, front, back. It was tough. Sales was almost none.

Not giving up, I brought my family to swap meets. The situation was even worse than St Vincent. Who would ever thought of buying fine jewelry in swap meets, eh? i guess we tried everything we could.

With our very limited capital draining and losses mounting, I decided to go back to where we started in 1976, the grocery food business. By 1990, I signed an agreement to take over a Grocery Store in Gale. City of Industry.  We renovated the store, added new fixtures and equipment, and filling up inventory. We very quickly opened Datu Complex Inc - USA. I was full of "pride."  A little over a month, the store was sold, at a bargain price of about 25% of what we paid for. 

With the remaining inventory of jewelries that we brought from Hong Kong, we were all set, ready to go. I started looking for an store front outlet. And before long, we opened up a jewelry booth, 8" x 8" space in the downtown corner St Vincent corner Wilshire Blvd. It seemed to be the most ideal place to run a jewelry business, it was a jewelry center -- every single shop in that floor were offering jewelries for wholesale and retail. I later realized that window shopper were few, buyers were almost none, and competition were all over the place, right, front, back. It was tough. Sales was almost none.

With the remaining inventory of jewelries that we brought from Hong Kong, we were all set, ready to go. I started looking for an store front outlet. And before long, we opened up a jewelry booth, 8" x 8" space in the downtown corner St Vincent corner Wilshire Blvd. It seemed to be the most ideal place to run a jewelry business, it was a jewelry center -- every single shop in that floor were offering jewelries for wholesale and retail. I later realized that window shopper were few, buyers were almost none, and competition were all over the place, right, front, back. It was tough. Sales was almost none.

Not giving up, I brought my family to swap meets. The situation was even worse than St Vincent. Who would ever thought of buying fine jewelry in swap meets, eh? i guess we tried everything we could.

With our very limited capital rapidly draining and losses mounting, I decided to go back to where we started in 1976 amd became successful -- the grocery food business. By 1991, I signed an agreement to take over a Grocery Store in 15333 E. Gale Avenue, City of Industry in California 91745.  The location seems good -- it was neighborhood strip mall along the busy Gale Ave in the boundary of Hacienda Heights and City of Industry. It looks perfect to start a grocery business! We renovated the store, added new fixtures and equipment, and filling up empty shelves in a week. We very quickly opened Datu Complex Inc - USA. I was full of "pride."  The phone number for the store was with much pride, 818-961-5555 and 818-336-LIMA. My childred have high hopes. Yet --- a little over a month, the store was sold, at a bargain price of about 25% of what we paid for. 

[Winston -- Papa and Mama have looked up so many business opportunities in LA at that time. And having a successful retail business in the Philippines, Papa decided to get in the supermarket business again. Seeing an Ads in the Chinese newspaper for a "Market for Sale," without losing a minute, he jumped in and took the opportunity. Indeed the business was bought at a very low price and we have very high hopes. The next day, I went with my father to buy a new truck for the business. Thousands of plastic bags (we call sando-bags) were ordered, with exact same logo, design and pattern exactly as those we used in the Philippines. ]

[Winston -- Everyday, usually by dawn, I would go with my father to downtown LA to buy vegetable for sell in the store. In the store, I would help in cleaning the vegetable to make them presentable, during the day, I tried to sell the vegetable to small restaurants in Hacienda Heights. It was laborious and exhausting. Yet I was determined, I was ready to help with whichever way I can with the best I can offer.]

[Winston -- Sooner did we realized that the business is really slow. the main reason the former owner (Di Ho Market) sold this at a low price. The day to day business was extremely slow. To avoid wasting fresh produce bought from downtown LA from spoiling, Mama would cook then for our lunch, vegetable seems to turn yellow so quickly that our everyday lunch was yellow-kangkong,  Papa was frustrated, not only was the business slow, but more so frustrating, was that no one from our family can really help full time. Walter had his full time work, while Ibin goes to USC, Bay goes to Pomona School, while I go to San Antonio for my architecture course. I can feel Papa's disappointment, and perhaps even anguish about the business. In a few weeks, Papa decided to sell the store at 25% value of what was paid for - to make things even easier for the buyer, the amount was to be paid in 6 months. --- What a relief.]

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