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Pearl River Mart poised to return as much smaller Tribeca outpost

The beloved home-goods emporium closed its 30,000-square-foot Soho shop this spring

Earlier this year, beloved Pearl River Mart—purveyor of affordable Asian home goods, paradise of things you didn’t know you needed—closed up shop after 45 years in business. Now, it’s coming back—and this time, it’s coming to Tribeca.

Most recently, the store had a 30,000-square-foot multi-level wonderland on Broadway in Soho. But Soho ain’t what it used to be, and in April of 2015, owners Ching Yeh and Ming Yi Chen announced that they were facing a five-fold rent hike, which put the price “well north” of $500,000 a month, Crain’s reported at the time.

Attempts were made to save the place—Ms. Chen was in talks with the landlord about moving to the less expensive fourth floor, developers made offers to collaborate with the store—but there was nothing to be done. In March 2016, the doors at 477 Broadway were shuttered for good. (The business, however, continued to operate online.)

Turns out, the end of the Soho store was just a temporary setback. From the beginning, the Chens had discussed plans to eventually reopen the shop. They just need the right location, and the right people to take over the bulk of day-to-day operations. They’ve found both.

According to Crain’s, the new Pearl River Mart is set to open at 395 Broadway on November 17th—first as a pop-up shop, and then, after temporarily closing in February to build out the space, as a permanent retail space at the corner of Walker Street. “It’s not too far from Soho and we are still close to Chinatown, so we think it is an ideal place,” Ms. Chen told Crain’s.

That’s not the only big change: the Chen's son and daughter-in-law will be taking over as managers of the business, while the founding couple steps back into a more advisory role. “It wasn’t the store’s time to go,” said Joanne Kwong, the new president of Pearl River Mart.

Since the new space will about a fourth the size of the old one, the store will have to cut some of its bulkier stock—traditional Chinese instruments, traditional Chinese medicine, giant Buddhas. “There were really large, oversized Buddhas that are amazing, but probably not right for a New York City apartment,” Kwong said.

In keeping with the store’s original mission of increasing cultural understanding of China—it first opened in 1971, when relations were at a standstill—Pearl River 2.0 will take several steps to “showcase Asian and Asian-American culture.” There will be a designated space to show off work by a rotating cast of artists and designers, explanations of the cultural significance of various products, and an assortment of in-store events.