retail news in context, analysis with attitude

by Kevin Coupe

KCBS-TV has the remarkable story of how customers of a Seal Beach, California, doughnut shop have gone to bat for the store’s owners in a time of desperate need.

John and Stella Chhan immigrated to the US from Cambodia in 1979, and have been operating Donut City in Seal Beach for more than three decades. They are fixtures in the area.

Recently, Stella Chhan suffered an aneurysm, and has been recovering in rehab. John Chhan would like to spend more time with her, but he can’t leave his shop until he sells out of doughnuts - his wife may be ill, but he still has to make a living, and it is just him.

Chhan’s customers wanted to set up a GoFundMe account to help him and his wife during their time of need, but Chhan refused. And so, these regular customers have done the next best thing - they come in early in each day and buy at least a dozen doughnuts each, quickly wiping out the inventory so Chhan can go be with his wife. They drummed up support for the tactic via a newsletter and word of mouth, the story says.

“Hey come and support this guy’s doughnuts,” one customer said, outside Chhan’s shop. “He’s a great man, great cause.”

This Eye-Opening story made me feel so good when I read it. It says so much about America’s best qualities - the immigrant work ethic that helped build it, the entrepreneurial spirit that can make a small business so consequential to its customers, and the basic human compassion that lead some people to believe and act like kindness and generosity are far more important than greed and meanness and a me-first sensibility.

I am touched by these people. I just wish I lived somewhere near Seal Beach, so I could go buy a couple of dozen doughnuts. (Plus, I’d be living near Seal Beach...)
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