Supporting a Cultural and Culinary Institution in Seattle
As World War II came to a close in 1945, Asian-Americans across the United States struggled to rebuild their lives. Fujimatsu Moriguchi, founder of Uwajimaya, one of the largest Asian grocers in the Pacific Northwest today, needed financial assistance to start and build his new business.
“Japanese lost their businesses, they lost everything,” said Tomio Moriguchi, Chairman of the board at Uwajimaya. “When the war ended, my father came back to Seattle and then we started the Uwajimaya business.”
Bank of America was the only financial institution that would provide that support for what is now an anchor institution in Seattle’s thriving Asian community. Bank of America remains Uwajimaya’s bank to this day.
“Over the years we’ve provided loans to help them grow the business, open new stores,” said Chris McCormack, client manager at Bank of America. “Tomoko and I talk about best practices in the industry and what might be available to help them run their business better.”
Each week, groups of students, tourists and local shoppers visit Uwajimaya to observe and experience the diverse Asian cultures that represent the fastest growing segment of the Puget Sound’s population.
The relationship between Bank of America and the Moriguchi family remains strong. The bank assisted the family in expanding the business and relocating to its current Chinatown location. In addition, through the bank’s support, the Moriguchis are building a new store in Bellevue, which has spurred additional business growth in what was otherwise an empty space.
Tomoko Moriguchi Matsuno, CEO and president of Uwajimaya, said, “The surprise is that we can have such a human relationship with a big, big bank.”
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