According to NBC News, Yu spent the last year transforming a funeral supply store in Manhattan’s Chinatown into the city’s first bookstore owned by an Asian American woman. The name of the store is a play on his last name as well as a tribute to his mother, a GoFundMe page launched to raise funds for the bookstore, said: “[T]he initials YM are actually my mother’s initials to showcase the stories and love in different languages that have been passed down from generation to generation.
In an interview with NBC News, Yu explained, “I’m very proud of my last name and wanted to represent my mom and how proud she was where she was from, and how our stories are always intertwined. I couldn’t have come to this without all the sacrifices she made.
The GoFundMe page also explained why she chose to open a bookstore; to “present the stories and love in different languages that have been passed down from generation to generation”.
As a chemical engineer and self-proclaimed bibliophile, Yu told NBC News that she reads over 100 books a year and spends time browsing stores for works by writers of color. This often leads to disappointment due to the lack of bookstores that highlight immigrant or POC stories.
“A lot of bookstores are touting the bestsellers,” she said, “when Asian, black and Latin voices are not amplified the way they deserve.”
She added that she had carefully organized her bookstore to create a catalog of actual performances. At that time, the store had around 1,600 works.
“I want to present an inventory of all these voices at a time when we feel our lives are in danger,” she said. “I dreamed of a place where people who look like me can come in and think, ‘I see myself on the shelves, I feel like I am seen here. “”
Yu plans to hold author signings and events with groups like the Asian American Writers Workshops. She is confident that the store will be an inclusive safe space, not to mention that it also has a bar and cafe that serves beloved Asian snacks, such as red bean rolls, sesame balls. and sweet buttered breads.
“Having a little bit of space where you can sit and chat, where you can bring writers in here and read,” she said, “is a really good conversation facilitator.”
Since the opening of Yu & Me Books, Yu has received tremendous support, which underscores the community’s need and enthusiasm for this space.