Small business near Chinatown closing its doors after nearly 30 years due to rent spike

CHINATOWN, LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- A mom and pop store near Chinatown will close its doors after serving the community for nearly 30 years due to a rent spike from the new property owner.

Leon Nguy has paid $1,150 a month for nearly 30 years for Toni's Market. On Friday, the store will close.

"I feel like a family, everybody here is like a family," Nguy said. "Even when I told them, some of them were crying. My wife crying, I'm crying, but we can do nothing."

With a rent spike of $2,000, Nguy and his wife are being forced into retirement.

The Chinatown neighborhood they cater to isn't particularly large or wealthy, but it is loyal.

When a woman who identified herself as Alex found out the little market was closing, she put out a social media call to arms to help the family out.

"To hear a mom and pop shop like this close down kind of signifies we are on the precipice of some major change in this neighborhood," the woman said. We really just wanted to put the focus back on the folks here and support them by buying out their inventory, so they have one less thing to worry about."

Last fall, a new property owner bought the building for what Nguy said was $2 million.

A spokesperson for the owner, KLS LLC, said they tried to negotiate with Nguy, but the new owner had to increase rent due to market rates.

Alex said she believes it has something to do with a new project down the block, a College Station apartment complex.

The L.A. City Council gave its unanimous approval in March to a 725-unit building, which could also become home to a new supermarket.

The spokesperson would not say what the owner plans to do with the current building housing Toni's Market.

For Fong, Nguy's wife, it means not making their daily commute from their residence in Cypress every day.

The couple raised five children with the business supporting them.
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