Opened in 1981, Viet-Wah has transformed from the small shop it once was, to the warehouse distribution and retail store it has become today. Under the care of founder Duc Tran, Viet-Wah has become more than just a store. It is the connection between Seattle’s International District and Asian and Pacific Rim countries.
Tran came to Seattle as a refugee from Vietnam. He recognized the scarcity of familiar foods at the time, and started Viet-Wah as a small shop in 1981 to provide Asian grocery items to others in the community. Viet-Wah now has three locations and serves over 10,000 customers weekly.
Viet-Wah Group recently had a grand opening for the new location of their Renton store. Leeching Tran, vice president of Viet-Wah Group, said of the change: “After being in Renton for the last 10 years, Viet-Wah is excited to announce the grand opening of our brand new store location on 2825 NE Sunset Blvd. The new, larger store now features a deli and many upgrades from our previous location.”
The International Examiner honored Viet-Wah with the Community Business Award as part of the 2016 Community Voice Awards.
In the following message to the community, Tran talks about her role with the business, Viet-Wah’s history, and its recent expansion:
“I am currently the vice president of Viet-Wah Group. I don’t have much of a daily routine—each work day is different depending on what current projects the company is working on. Generally I oversee the operations of the two grocery stores and our wholesale distribution center. Right now the company is updating our online presence and in the midst of launching an online store, hopefully later this year.
“My dad, Duc Tran, is the president and founded of the company in 1981. He came to Seattle as a refugee of the Vietnam War in 1975. After arriving here, he recognized the scarcity of familiar foods from his home country and sought a way to provide those items to others in the community. What started as a tiny shop grew into a full-service grocery store. So the very start of the company was born from a need to have difficult to find foods from home. A warehouse and distribution center soon followed to not only supply our own grocery store, but other stores and restaurants in the area as well. The wholesale operation imports food directly from Vietnam, Thailand, and China. In our grocery stores, we carry a range of all Asian food products and some American food staples as well.
“Viet-Wah has been lucky to have the support of the community over the last 30 years to grow to where it is today. It’s our duty to give back to the people and the communities who support us, too. This includes sponsoring events like Celebrate Little Saigon, Tet in Seattle, and the Thai Festival, donating food and supporting the ACRS Food Bank, and giving to organizations like ICHS, VFA, or ICRA that directly impact our community.
Because of the support of our customers and community, we’re able to do things like expand the Renton store to better serve our customers. Being able to expand and grow reaffirms that we’re doing something right and providing something that people want. You can’t take food for granted, and it feels great that we are able to supply the things that people are looking for. Our hope is that we’re able to make all these great foods available to an even wider population and make Asian foods more easily accessible to everyone.”