Joanne Kwong is the president of Pearl River Mart, the iconic NYC Asian emporium established in 1971.
After witnessing the public lament that followed the 2016 closing of the historic “friendship store,” she joined her in-laws, the original owners, and reinvented the brand, establishing four new Manhattan locations in Tribeca/Chinatown, Chelsea Market, and the Museum of Chinese in America. A second food-focused store at Chelsea Market, Pearl River Mart Foods, opened during the pandemic in October 2020.
Today, under Joanne’s leadership, Pearl River remains the joyful shopping experience beloved by generations of New Yorkers and visitors. It now also serves as a dynamic hub for the Asian American community: hosting events, generating digital content, and serving as a platform for Asian American entrepreneurs, designers and artists. Pearl River’s community-based approach to commerce has been recognized by The Wall Street Journal as “the future of retail,” and by New York Magazine as one of its “Reasons to Love NY.”
Joanne is a product of the NYC public schools, and holds degrees from Columbia University, Duke Law School and Duke Graduate School. Before leading Pearl River, she had a long and varied career as a civil litigator, federal judicial clerk, adjunct law professor, strategic counsel, and non-profit communications executive. Joanne lives on the Upper West Side with her husband and two young sons and is a vocal advocate for NYC’s Chinatown and small businesses.