‘A holder of culture’: Cambodia Town’s KH Market to close by the end of May

Cambodia Town staple KH Market will be shuttering at the end of the month following a 15-year stint as a source of hard-to-find Southeast Asian items for the surrounding community.

The closure on May 31 comes after a two-year battle to save the grocery store from being demolished as part of a larger redevelopment plan at the Anaheim Street shopping center where the business sits. Negotiations with the property owner to include the market in new plans ended with a proposed rent increase that the family could not afford, said Pichivy Pang, a member of the family that owns the business.

A representative for McKently Malak Architects, Inc., which is listed as the project applicant, did not respond to a request for comment on Friday.

In an update posted May 20 to a Change.org petition to save the KH Market, the owners thanked their customers for their support throughout the years.

“Although we’ve lost this battle, what we’ve taken away from this experience is so much more than what we would’ve gained from simply accepting our situation without any resistance,” the post said.

Supermarket staff started letting customers know about the decision to close about a year ago, but Pang said they began to raise more awareness of it within the past couple of weeks when customers took notice of the emptier shelves.

Since then, community members have been buying what they can before KH closes for good—even buying bulk just to show some final support to the market that served as a finite source of Southeast Asian ingredients in the city.

The KH Market stands inside the East Anaheim Plaza on Thursday, May 27, 2021. Photo by Crystal Niebla.

On Thursday afternoon, when family member Bonnorak Pang told a few customers trickling in during reduced operation hours that they are closing for good, they raised their eyebrows or dropped their jaws as they reacted to the news.

“It’s just part of life,” Bonnorak Pang said about the closure, staring into the distance from inside his family’s emptying store.

Pichivy Pang said they plan to take a month-long break before deciding what their next move will be.

Cambodia Town native Lan Nguyen said she felt “heartbroken” about the news.

“They were a holder of culture for the community,” she said.

She and filmmaker Brandon Soun have been documenting KH Market’s closing for an upcoming documentary. For them, the closure hits close to home—both growing up visiting that market. And the intimate memories they carry with them aren’t unique, Nguyen said.

When filming, Nguyen observed upset customers reacting to the news with their own stories of a fond relationship with the workers and the store owners.

“Every single person shared a story,” she said. “It just blew me away,”

As a result, Nguyen and Soun are working on a documentary memorializing KH Market with stories from the community. A GoFundMe has been launched to help cover their production costs and community members wishing to share a memory may do so by reaching out to the filmmakers at [email protected]

KH Market is at 915 E. Anaheim St.

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Crystal Niebla is the West Long Beach reporter through the Report for America program. Philanthropic organizations pledged to cover the local donor portion of her grant-funded position with the Post. If you want to support Crystal's work, you can donate to her Report For America position at lbpost.com/support.
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