National Dollar Stores was a very successful discount store chain founded by Joe Shoong.
In 1901, Shoong opened his first small store in partnership with three others in Vallejo. By 1903, he bought out his partners and moved the shop to San Francisco. c.1905-1907 he moved again and renamed the store, China Toggery in English and Chung Hing in Chinese, which means 'revival' or 'rejuvenation'.
Shoong expanded rapidly to additional stores. The Oakland location at 11th and Washington (in the Davis Block) opened in 1924, with 30,000 square feet of space. 4 Beginning in 1926, 7 the retail chain was renamed National Dollar Stores and began selling items priced $1 or less, and by 1938, there were 37 stores. 2
Eventually Shoong owned over 50 stores in California and five other states. Shoong made a point of having a Chinese manager in almost every National Dollar Store. At the time it was unusual to have a Chinese American in a management position.
In 1938 Shoong was involved in a complex labor dispute. National Dollar Stores operated a sewing factory in San Francisco's Chinatown with between 125 and 200 workers. The workers organized a union for collective bargaining. The workers thought they had agreed to a closed shop (no union) in exchange for higher wages, but Shoong promptly sold the factory to the Golden Gate Manufacturing Company. After negotiations stalled, the workers went on strike. 6 The strike lasted 3 months, and the public honored the picket lines. National Dollar Stores and Golden Gate finally settled with the workers, but by the end of the year the factory was closed.
Links and References
- Oakland Public Library, Oakland History Room and Maps Division
- China Toggery Opens New Unit in Store Chain Oakland Tribune May 28, 1924
- 31st birthday Oakland Tribune May 5, 1938
- China Toggery in Washington Street Home Oakland Tribune June 1, 1924
- National Dollar's last discount SFGate.com February 15, 1996
- Chinese Workers Picket 3 Stores Oakland Tribune February 27, 1938
- 7-Store Stock Disposal Sale Oakland Tribune July 30, 1926