Tho nail
May 5, 2008 12:19 PM   Subscribe

A chance meeting between actress Tippi Hedren and 20 Vietnamese refugees over 30 years ago, sparked a Vietnamese American domination of the manicure business (80% of manicurists in California; 43% nationwide)
posted by jaimev (39 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
 
Strange. I'd always noticed that they were mainly Vietnamese and had attributed that fact to some kind of early nucleus of refugees, so this confirms it.
posted by Burhanistan at 12:29 PM on May 5, 2008


That's an interesting little story.
posted by chunking express at 12:31 PM on May 5, 2008


It's also strange how a single ethnic group can so dominate an industry. (I feel like in Toronto there are a sea of Tamil men doing all the cooking.)
posted by chunking express at 12:33 PM on May 5, 2008


Fascinating. One quibble, with this quote:
Unlike the boutiques selling ao dai tunics or the pho restaurants that line Vietnamese enclaves, nail salons didn't spring from centuries-old customs
Phở is actually less than 100 years old. Yummy, though.
posted by MrMoonPie at 12:48 PM on May 5, 2008


And, similarly, Cambodians run all the donut shops.
posted by MythMaker at 12:48 PM on May 5, 2008


In Vancouver at least, all the construction sites seem to be guarded after hours by middle-aged Sikh men, older than you might expect in security, and very nattily dressed.
posted by Naberius at 12:55 PM on May 5, 2008


Doormen in New York have traditionally been predominantly Maltese (not the fluffy kind of Maltese).
posted by Eater at 1:01 PM on May 5, 2008


It's a rare pizzeria in my neck of the woods that's not run by a Muslim from Pakistan. If anything, it's odd that all the Chinese carry-outs are actually run by Chinese people.
posted by Faint of Butt at 1:09 PM on May 5, 2008 [1 favorite]


Well done, Tippi. This re-affirms my faith that a celebrity can help people without putting their own megawatt ego at the center of it all.
posted by grounded at 1:14 PM on May 5, 2008


huh, neat. It's weird how movements like this can start out very small, and then become widespread enough to be a stereotype within so little time. Great story.
posted by vorfeed at 1:17 PM on May 5, 2008


So we really did lose that war.
posted by monospace at 1:23 PM on May 5, 2008


not the fluffy kind of Maltese

Eater, I'm sure they are fluffy in their own way. Maybe at home, when they really feel like pampering themselves and put on their peep-toe mules to watch Breakfast at Tiffany's.
posted by Turtles all the way down at 1:28 PM on May 5, 2008


'round here the Irish run the plastering (wall board) business, the Vietnamese run the floor sanding and refinishing business. What amazes me is that there are so many nail shops. Either the rents are dirt cheap, or there are a lot of people who like neon nails.
posted by Gungho at 1:38 PM on May 5, 2008


'round here the Irish run the plastering

Yeah, my mother's side of the family is all Irish, and they're pretty much the go-to group if you need to get plastered.
posted by Parasite Unseen at 1:44 PM on May 5, 2008 [11 favorites]


Most, if not all, of the Japanese teppanyaki-style restaurants in Atlanta (and a good number of the sushi places) are owned by Koreans.
posted by elfgirl at 1:45 PM on May 5, 2008


Most, if not all, of the Japanese teppanyaki-style restaurants in Atlanta (and a good number of the sushi places) are owned by Koreans.

As far as I can tell, that's common in lots of places. Not sure why, because Korean food is pretty great in its own right!
posted by vorfeed at 2:00 PM on May 5, 2008




Wow, I always wondered why nail salons are staffed exclusively by Vietnamese women, but I just kind of figured that it was a job that didn't require a lot of English skills, and they all told their friends in the old country they can come and do nails and make good money. Although it turns out that is mostly the reason, I never would have guessed it could be traced back to a single incident.
posted by DecemberBoy at 2:15 PM on May 5, 2008


Interesting. I wish it explained why every strip mall nail shop I see has the windows outlined in neon, though...
posted by nonliteral at 2:25 PM on May 5, 2008


And then there's the "Patel Motel" phenomenon:

"As many as 60% of mid-sized motels and hotel properties, all over the US, are owned by the people of Indian origin. Of this nearly one-third have the surname Patel."

--http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/3177054.stm
posted by tractorfeed at 2:31 PM on May 5, 2008


Nice one, Parasite Unseen!
posted by Mrs Hilksom at 3:26 PM on May 5, 2008


because Korean food is pretty great in its own right!

Koreans got the spices and kimchee thing against them, while Japanese-American cuisine has earned a very positive cachet (mmm, teriyaki).
posted by tachikaze at 3:37 PM on May 5, 2008


OK, so what is the deal with the apparently required-by-regulation window graphic of a hand holding a rose?
posted by mwhybark at 3:56 PM on May 5, 2008


Koreans got the spices and kimchee thing against them, while Japanese-American cuisine has earned a very positive cachet (mmm, teriyaki).

IMHO that's more than a little self-selecting -- I think bulgogi and bibimbap have just as much potential for American-appeal as teriyaki, and there's lots of Japanese food (natto and tofu come to mind) that most Americans find somewhat unappealing. At any rate, I wish Korean food were more popular around here.
posted by vorfeed at 3:58 PM on May 5, 2008


And here I was thinking that was just a local phenomenon. Hm.

For what it's worth, over 90 percent of local Italian restaurants here are owned by Greeks.
posted by konolia at 4:03 PM on May 5, 2008


"As many as 60% of mid-sized motels and hotel properties, all over the US, are owned by the people of Indian origin. Of this nearly one-third have the surname Patel."

oh, thank you for linking this. i was just about to go on a google-search for information on the Patel Motel thing. (all i knew about it was from my own experience and Mississippi Marsala.)

when i travel, i go out of my way to stay at an Indian-owned motel. i've found that in the South and other hinterlands places, it was comforting to this atheist northerner to find a place where it smelled like incense (just like home), the restaurant would perhaps serve decent veggie selections, and had a Ganesha in the lobby instead of a shrine to jebus and blaring x-tian diatribes. somehow being met at the front desk by a sari-wearing mom instead of Ethel in her sky-high bleached-blonde hairdo and suspicious cigarette voice was ever-so-much more relaxing. not to mention that Indian owners have noticeably looked out for me, as a woman on the road alone--putting me in the room across from where they lived, for instance, instead of way out where the drunk military dudes were partying.

yes, it's a prejudice. but if my prejudice can even out what must sometimes be some serious pain-in-the-ass discrimination against them.... then okay.
posted by RedEmma at 4:17 PM on May 5, 2008


In NY, the fruit and vegetable markets were once all run by Italians. Perhaps pretty soon all the cops will be Asian and Middle-Eastern if there is some kind of trend that is forming.
posted by cazoo at 4:20 PM on May 5, 2008


Oh dear ... this post immediately made me think of this YouTube video:

Anjelah Johnson
posted by jabberjaw at 4:26 PM on May 5, 2008 [1 favorite]


For what it's worth, over 90 percent of local Italian restaurants here are owned by Greeks.

Interesting. In and around Baltimore, Greeks own all the diners. It's great if you're in the mood for spanakopita at two in the morning.
posted by Faint of Butt at 4:27 PM on May 5, 2008


Who was the chance encounter with that led to the domination of Korean owned Biki Wax Studios? Christopher Walken? Peter North? Were there arrests?
posted by tkchrist at 4:53 PM on May 5, 2008


OK, so what is the deal with the apparently required-by-regulation window graphic of a hand holding a rose?

Seriously. I've noticed this for years, all across the country -- the same fabulous '80s women on the windows. It can be no coincidence that Patrick Nagel's last name means "Nail."
posted by Countess Elena at 5:13 PM on May 5, 2008


Man, my favorite Japanese restaurant, until they closed down, was run by a Korean family. The one concession to Korean food was that they'd give you a little paper condiment cup full of kim chee to eat with your katsu udon or whatever. They also had some vaguely-Chinese stuff, but it wasn't very good and I think it was just there for people who were scared of anything more exotic.

My folks took me there all the time as a kid. It took me forever, once I moved away, to remember which kind of asian food you needed to get at what kind of restaurant, because in my experience it had just been kind of a one-stop deal.
posted by nebulawindphone at 5:22 PM on May 5, 2008


"As many as 60% of mid-sized motels and hotel properties, all over the US, are owned by the people of Indian origin. Of this nearly one-third have the surname Patel."

I think it might have something to do with the Indian caste system. Wikipedia suggests that the surname derives from Patidar, which means "landowner." In order to have a hospitality industry in India, you need a mid-level caste that isn't considered unclean (so they can handle food, clothing, and bedsheets), but not so high status that they risk their standing in the community by doing manual labor. I suppose the Patels fit that bill both in the mother country and the United States.
posted by jonp72 at 5:25 PM on May 5, 2008


Interesting. When I was growing up in NYC, all the 24 hour fruit/cigarette/salad/beer stores were run by Koreans and called thusly: "Oh, I'm sure there's a Korean grocers around there. They'll have it."

When I moved to London, all the corner shops were uniformly run by Pakistanis. That was not a welcome influx of people, let me tell you. My corner shop guy used to tell me stories about how people in that neighbourhood would buy from his shop during the day and put burning rubbish through his letter box at night.

'round here the Irish run the plastering (wall board) business

Very interesting. In Ireland today, you're hard pressed to get an Irish plasterer. Most of the building, construction and decorative work is being done by Polish immigrants. Apparently in Poland it is being done by Chinese immigrants. At least according to my Polish house keeper, who is actually a physicist.
posted by DarlingBri at 9:48 PM on May 5, 2008


Don't forget Thurn und Taxis, owners of centuries old underground mail system, holders of a huge fortune, and subject of a good game.
posted by mecran01 at 10:19 PM on May 5, 2008


Interesting. In and around Baltimore, Greeks own all the diners.

I tried to buy a cup of coffee and a donut at one, but they wouldn't take my money. I had to go see Proposition Joe and have him convert it to mint currency at 40c on the dollar before they'd let me eat breakfast.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 1:43 AM on May 6, 2008


I note that in every mid to large city I've been to, once you pass some economic threshold on the way down, essentially all the liquor stores in the neighborhood are owned by Korean families.
posted by kjs3 at 7:14 AM on May 6, 2008


Doormen in New York have traditionally been predominantly Maltese (not the fluffy kind of Maltese).

I don't know when that tradition dates back to, nor have I ever heard of it, not to say that it's not somehow still a fact. I was a doorman for several years, my godfather was a super and so I've been hanging out with doormen, going to the union parties and so on since I was five years old or so. In my experience doormen/maintenance people are/were usually Irish, Puerto Rican, Dominican, various flavors of South American and Polish- which is to say heavily Catholic as a unifying characteristic. Of course that doesn't exclude the Maltese, but I am curious how you arrived at that statement.
posted by Divine_Wino at 8:00 AM on May 6, 2008




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