Suki and Tony's Corner Store: "The First Korean in the Market"

1004 South 9th Street

When Chong “Suki” Giamanco arrived in South Philadelphia over forty years ago, most aspects of her every day life were starkly different from what she left behind in Korea. The language, the customs, the food and people were all new experiences. “I was scared. Everything different. Hard to get used to people. I cry every day.” One thing that was familiar, however, was the 9th Street Market itself, which Suki explains as being much like markets she knew in Korea.

After forty-something years of running a household and beauty supply store on the corner of 9th and Carpenter Streets, things have changed. Suki, “the first Korean on the Market,” has made lifelong friends with her fellow business owners, from Mariella Esposito at Fante’s to the fruit vendors across the street. Spending just half an hour in the store provides evidence of the relationships Suki has formed with her customers. They joke with her, call her by her nickname and ask after her children. Suki has also seen new immigrant groups come to the market and try to forge their way like she did so many years ago.