AAPI Heritage Month: Sun May Company

In celebration of Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month, we are hosting a series of profiles and stories to amplify and honor people, businesses, organizations, and projects connected to the history of Seattle’s AAPI community.

Stepping into the Sun May Company gift shop is like entering a portal to history. The distinct red storefront, nestled in Canton Alley, leads you to the oldest Chinese gift shop in Chinatown International District. But Sun May is more than just a store, it is a gathering space, a museum, a collection of the neighborhood’s history, and a remembrance of one of the community’s most treasured members, Donnie Chin.  

The shop has passed through three generations of the Chin family. Originally called the Bow Wah, it was first opened by Donnie’s grandfather Shong Chin in 1911 and specialized in Chinese merchandise, jewelry, and goldsmithing. In 1962, ownership passed to Shong’s son Don Chin and his wife Myra Mar Chin who changed the name to Sun May. The grandchildren, Donnie and Connie Chin, later took over the business. Since Donnie’s death in 2015, Connie has continued to operate the gift shop on limited hours and hosts a remembrance each year on the anniversary of Donnie’s death.  

Sun May, located at 5 Canton Alley S, is currently open Fridays and Saturdays, 11 am – 4 pm. Once inside you will be treated to a treasure trove of antiques, trinkets, artifacts, collectibles, unique toys, and endless hidden gems. But, most importantly, you will be immersing yourself in the history and memories of this beautiful neighborhood.  

Myra Mar Chin at Sun May. Photo by John D. Pai. From www.digitalwingluke.org

This AAPI Heritage Month profile was recommended by community member Monyee Chau

Sun May Co. holds so much history within this hidden alley store, and the stories undoubtedly immerse you when you walk in. What a wonderful way to connect with Connie and the neighborhood’s intricate stories through such a special legacy.

-Monyee Chau