Queens Assemblywoman Grace Meng Wants Flushing Store Signs in English

Daniel Edward Rosen, New York Daily News, April 14, 2010

A Queens assemblywoman wants small businesses in Flushing to make their store signs, often written in Chinese or Korean characters, more English-friendly.

“I represent many constituents . . . who are not comfortable with not being able to fully understand signage outside of stores and inside stores,” said Grace Meng (D-Flushing), who is putting together an advisory board of local business owners to come up with a solution.

Meng said that small businesses that use awnings often bearing signage written in foreign languages scare away potential customers, thereby hurting sales.

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Confusing store signs could also complicate rescue efforts by fire and police squads responding to fires and crimes. Citing the deadly Monday morning Chinatown blaze that killed one and left hundreds homeless, Meng said that businesses were putting themselves and their neighbors at risk by not spelling out their business names and addresses clearly.

“We’re afraid of situations like that happening in Flushing,” Meng said.

Local officials agreed with Meng’s argument.

“I think people coming in want to know what’s in the store,” said Marilyn Bitterman, district manager of Community Board 7.

“Grace is not working this out of thin air. There are a lot of people who think that businesses should have two languages [on the store sign],” said Jim Gerson, chairman of the Flushing Business Improvement District.

Even businesses were in agreement.

“This store is not for Chinese or Korean people. This is for everyone,” said Sean Kim, 35, manager of Electronic Land on Northern Blvd., adding that his sign was written in both English and Korean.

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