Virtual grocery shopping became more common during the epidemic, with Weee, a company focused on delivering Asian food, not unique.
Its founder, Larry Lew, came to the United States from China as a young engineer almost two decades ago. He said he started the company because he was unhappy with the choice of local Asian grocery stores, and it took him a long time to get them from his home.
He spoke to the Associated Press about how the epidemic has affected food supply and the company’s expansion goals after it recently raised more than $ 300 million. The conversation has been edited for simplicity ության length.
H. Why did you start Weee?
Answer. It took me 25 minutes to get to the nearest Chinese store in the Bay area where I live, and it took us two minutes to get to the main supermarket. Asian markets were relatively more difficult to access, with little experience. They are usually very crowded, և the range is usually quite old. Many of the (brands) were actually in the 80’s when most stores were established in this country.
H. What effect did the coronavirus epidemic have?
We have a lot of Chinese immigrant clients, so the epidemic affected our clients psychologically in front of everyone.
Q: What was that psychological effect?
Answer. Wuhan was shut down in China in mid-January. Ordinary Americans would not think much about the epidemic then. But when Chinese immigrants began to see that they were more cautious in China, they started buying more online. The first US case was in Seattle (January). Immigrant communities simply took it much more seriously than society. In February, we see that demand is growing rapidly. In early February, we began to require our employees to wear masks every day to keep everyone warm.
H. And you are from Wuhan, where the epidemic started. Do you have a family there, are they okay?
– This is my birthplace. Everyone was fine. It was definitely a difficult time for the city.
Question. Was it disappointing to see the reaction of people in the United States to the epidemic in early 2020, given what you see in China?
– I would not say disappointing. Nobody knew what was going to happen, did they? I think we took the situation more seriously than ordinary business, which probably did not see what was happening in China. We tried to tell everyone, hey, we have to take this seriously. That can be a big disaster.
Q: Now that you have collected this money, what do you want to do?
We are constantly expanding to other markets. We now have sales centers in five cities, and this year we are adding some in the United States. We are also trying to expand in Canada in the near future.
H. Why add Spanish-speaking food to your business?
We looked at the demographics. The reason is that we chose Asian-Spanish, there are many similarities between the two groups. They are growing, they are underestimated.
Q – And what is your best-selling food?
Our largest category is fresh produce. Our number one item is actually the green onion. Point 2 is the enoch mushroom. Product is number 1, followed by meat և seafood.