THE ROLAND'S MARKET STORY:
In the 1930s, Roland Ong, a young Chinese immigrant, lived in the thriving Van Buren community of Downtown Phoenix. He worked at the Ah Gee grocery, and he loved Phoenix- the buzzing Chinese cultural scene, the desert, the flashy neon signs. He liked working at the Ah Gee grocery, but he still felt unfulfilled, knowing that his life would mean nothing without a family to share it with. In 1939, he took a trip to China to visit his parents, and while walking through their neighborhood, a moment came that would change his life forever. He bumped into a girl with an enormous smile, bright red lips, and kind eyes, and she immediately stole his heart. The girl was Jean, a beautiful, spunky young woman looking to leave China and make something of herself. The two clicked instantly, and they sealed their future together in a whirlwind wedding in China before Roland brought Jean back to Arizona to begin their family. Always a dreamer, Roland didn’t want to go back to the Ah Gee grocery, and instead wanted to do something outrageous with his new wife by his side. The couple wanted to make their mark on the Phoenix they adored, so in 1941, the couple bought a beautiful building on Van Buren with brick walls, tin ceilings, and open spaces, they named it Roland’s Market, and they began a bustling Chinese grocery business. The couple spent a happy few decades living and working in Roland’s Market, and turning it into one of the best Chinese groceries in Phoenix while building their family together.
In these blissful years, the Ong family grew, and Roland and Jean had two beautiful children, Kai and Lana. The children helped their parents with the store, explored Phoenix with their dad, and received elaborate Chinese Red Package gifts from their mom every Chinese New Year. Roland and Jean loved their little grocery, but eventually, it became a distraction from the family they loved even more, so they decided to move to Scottsdale and leave Roland’s Market behind. For the next four decades, ownership of Roland’s Market was passed around, but nothing stuck. It became an auto care shop, a convenience store, and eventually, an empty building. Roland and Jean both passed away by 2013 after having successfully made their mark on Phoenix. Today, Roland’s Market, the store that the couple loved so dearly, sits empty and unused- what is to become of their little market?