99 Cent Store


Sometimes it takes an outsider to see things that the rest of us take for granted in our daily lives.  Tiu Wu is a graduate student from China studying sociology at The New School in New York City.  When he looked around his neighborhood in Brooklyn he noticed an unusual number of 99-cent stores.  These Chinese-owned discount shops all seemed to be selling the same merchandise and competing for the same customers.

How can they all survive, he wondered?  At first, Tiu had a hard time getting store-owners to talk.  He finally found one store where the woman behind the cash register agreed to answer his questions. She introduced him to a world full of surprises.

This story was produced as part of the Telling Immigrant Stories course at The New School.