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Online grocery Weee’s Larry Liu on delivering in a pandemic – Washington, District of Columbia

Washington, District of Columbia 2021-04-11 10:46:55 –

Virtual grocery shopping became more popular during the pandemic blockade, and Weee, a startup focused on Asian grocery delivery …

Virtual grocery shopping became more common during the pandemic blockade, and Weee, a start-up company focused on Asian grocery delivery, was no exception.

Its founder, Larry Liu, came from China to the United States as a young engineer nearly 20 years ago. He said he set up the company because he was dissatisfied with the assortment available from local Asian grocery stores and took a long time to get to the grocery store from home.

He told The Associated Press how the pandemic affected grocery delivery, the company’s expansion goals after recently raising more than $ 300 million, and Wee’s customers long before the pandemic was other Americans. I talked about how I saw it coming. The conversation has been edited for clarity and length.

Q: Why did you start Weee?

A: In the bay area where I live, it took 25 minutes to get to the nearest Chinese restaurant and 2 minutes to get to the mainstream supermarket. Access to the Asian market is relatively difficult and the shopping experience is not great. They are usually very crowded and the assortment is usually quite old. Many (brands) were actually from the 80’s when most of the stores were founded in this country.

Q: What was the impact of the coronavirus pandemic?

A: Due to the large number of immigrant customers from China, the pandemic actually had a psychological impact in front of our customers.

Q: What was its psychological impact?

A: In China, the closure of Wuhan occurred in mid-January. At that time, ordinary Americans didn’t think much about pandemics. But as Chinese immigrants began to see it in China, they began to be more cautious and began to buy more online. The first proceeding in the United States occurred in Seattle (January). The immigrant community took it much more seriously than the general public. Demand for February is growing rapidly. In early February, we began requiring employees to wear masks and measure everyone’s temperature daily.

Q: You are from Wuhan, where the pandemic began. Do you have a family there or are you okay?

A: That is my hometown. Everyone was fine. Certainly it was a difficult time for the city.

Q: Given what’s happening in China, was it frustrating to see the reaction of Americans to the pandemic in early 2020?

A: I don’t say it’s frustrating. Didn’t anyone know what would happen? Perhaps I took the situation more seriously than a normal business that had no idea what was going on in China. We tried to tell everyone, hey, we need to take this seriously. That could be a big catastrophe.

Q: Now that you have collected this money, what do you want to do?

A: We are constantly expanding into other markets. Currently, there are fulfillment centers in five cities, and this year we will add some to the United States. We are aiming to expand in Canada in the near future.

Q: Why add Hispanic foods to your business?

A: I checked the demographics. There are many similarities between the two groups that are why we chose Asia and Hispanics. They are growing and not well serviced.

Q: And what is your best-selling food?

A: Our biggest category is fresh food. Our number one item is actually green onions. The second item is enoki mushroom. Agricultural products are number one, followed by meat and seafood.

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