Pacific, a new Oriental department store and supermarket, opened Saturday in Arlington.
The store, at 3105 Wilson Blvd., is in the neighborhood of several smaller stores that also sell Oriental goods. Hoan Nguyen, one of the store's directors, said he hopes the neighborhood will become an ethnic area for the estimated 8,000 Vietnamese who live in the Washington area.
"The Chinese have something called 'Chinatown,'" he said. "We would like to have something similar to that. We want to open up a coffee shop on our second floor so tht we also can sell Oriental food."
The new store, which opened with a party of champagne and eggrolls, sellshandcrafts and goods made in the People's Republic of China and Taiwan, plus items from Japan, Hong Kong, the philippines, Thailand and other Asian nations. Foodstuffs and other products from the Orient, Europe and the U.S. also are on the shelves.
Hoan Nguyen, son of the store's president, Han Nguyen, said he was a student at Georgetown University "working on my doctorate" when Saigon fell in 1975. His father, who was in the import business in Saigon, and the rest of his family left before Saigon fell.
"We left almost everything behind," Hoan Nguyen said. "We looked at a lot of things - from hotels and motels to gas stations and restaurants - but we decided to go into something that we knew."
In July, 1976, they formed the Pacific Corp. It now engages in the import and export of Asian goods in Dallas, San Francisco and Virginia. Several months ago, the corporation decided to open its first department store, Hoan Nguyen said, "and I've been working 18 to 19 hours a day" ever since.
"The Vietnamese people miss Vietnam," he said, "and they miss the food. So we're trying to create that ambience and give them a place where they can feel at home."