Kang’s Market to close at the end of the month

Co-owner Gil An sits behind the Virginia Lottery machine he calls "his boss."
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Kang’s Market, a fixture on Richmond Highway for more than three decades, will soon be closing its doors. 

Located in a small strip of shops at 7327 Richmond Highway in Hybla Valley, Kang’s will close for good at 9 p.m. on November 28, according to its owners.

The corner store has been run by brothers Seok Jong “John” An and Gil Jong An for almost 35 years. Gill An said the closing was a business decision, and declined to elaborate further. They are not looking for a new location, Gil An said. 

“We’ve gotten so many cards [from customers]. I guess everybody knows,” John An said. He didn’t dwell on the closing though, saying philosophically “it’s part of the history of our lives.”

Kang’s closing follows the recent departure of another longtime tenant, Cintron Safe and Lock, which moved out earlier this year after being Kang’s neighbor since the 1980s.

Unremarkable from the outside, a walk inside of Kang’s takes you on trip to a different era. There’s wood paneling and a linoleum-tiled floor, a Marlboro Man billboard on one wall and an 1980s-era Bartles & Jaymes poster on another. A framed team picture of a Mount Vernon youth baseball team — from 1986 — sits near the register, where Gil sits comfortably on a stool as customers come and go.

On a recent day, most customers who walked in were regulars who Gil has long known. Many were buying lottery tickets, and almost every single one made sure to bid a warm farewell to Gil in case they don’t see him before the store closes. 

Bob Burkett, a customer at Kang’s since the 1980s, said he’s long enjoyed coming to the market to buy lottery tickets or a ice-cold beer in the summer. What made Kang’s special, he said, was hanging out and talking with the An brothers or other customers, often for hours at a time. 

For Burkett, the closing of Kang’s represents the end of an era.

“Route 1 is changing,” Burkett said. 

Kang’s has been in business under its current ownership since 1982, but has been a market for much longer. It was known at the Handy Market for many years, and the building it operates in dates back to 1940, according to county records.

Kang’s was the name of the market before the An brothers took over, and Gil An said they stuck with it because it was easier than paying for a new sign.

The key to staying in business for so long, especially with numerous chain stores nearby? Gil said it was the personal connection he and his brother built with customers — plus the freedom to price items just a little cheaper than the 7-Eleven directly across the street. 

“We’re valued,” An said.

Sherry Wallace, 60, said she has been coming to the market since she was 10 years old. Like other customers, she told Gil that he’d be dearly missed once the store closes.

“I’m gonna miss this place,” Wallace said, and complimented Gil for always being pleasant. “A lot of people gonna miss it, because he’s such a good guy.”

This story was updated to correct the name of Gil Jong An.

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  1. Amanda Socci