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Coronavirus fears impacting businesses in Mesa's Asian District

Posted at 9:12 PM, Feb 28, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-29 00:34:58-05

MESA, AZ — Fear over the coronavirus is impacting businesses in Mesa's Asian District, a two-mile stretch on Dobson Road made of more than 70 Asian-themed restaurants, grocery stores and shops.

Mekong Supermarket is on Dobson Road and Main Street and offers groceries from Korea, Japan, Taiwan and China.

Xavier Hafiz is the assistant manager and said the businesses in the Mekong Plaza have seen a drop in sales thanks to the coronavirus.

"It's been about a 28 to 30 percent drop in business just in the last four to five weeks," said Hafiz.

"The first two weeks it was like, completely dead in here," said Steven Diep, the property manager of Mekong Plaza.

Diep said he saw an immediate impact after Arizona had its first confirmed case of coronavirus in January involving a man within the ASU community who had traveled to the Wuhan area of China.

"We have a lot of international students from China that go to ASU that shop here. So I think that was one of the fears," said Diep.

"I would say it's a lot of fear. Right now is just getting into that mass panic field. When people get into the mass panic what do we do? Either follow the herd or stand our ground," said Hafiz.

Hafiz said those fears are impacting small business owners.

"All these neighborhoods, all these areas are all mom and pops," he said.

To address some of the concerns at the supermarket, they've added anti-bacterial soap stations, re-trained employees and started using extra sanitation.

"Now you can come in here and see a clean atmosphere you can see the contrast from what it took to create that over there to where we are here in America where we have better standards and our health practices alone are a lot better," he said. "We just ask people to have a little of patience and common sense."

Hafiz said he hopes people put those fears aside and come out for the first-ever Asian District Night Market on Saturday, February 29. The city recently re-branded the area as the Asian District after years of planning.

"Try the new foods, try the new cuisines. Get an idea of what this culture is before we have any kind of discriminatory acts against it," he said.

The Asian Chamber of Commerce is organizing the event that will take place in the parking lot of the AZ International Marketplace.

"Really what the whole purpose of this is to let people experience the culture of what might be like an Asian market in Bangkok or China without having to go there," said Ryan Winkle with the chamber.

The Asian District Night Market is 5:30 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. Tickets are $10. You can buy tickets here.

Learn more about the Asian District by clicking here.