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WARMINGTON: Shopkeeper Jenny Huang joins Sir John A, Ryerson and Dundas on cancelled list

The longtime business owner has been forced to shut down her souvenir shop in the St. Lawrence Market

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There was no shining knight riding in on horseback with last minute heroics to save Jenny Huang or her St. Lawrence Market souvenir shop on Saturday.

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Instead the middle-aged woman has been cancelled — the same way the City of Toronto has begun doing to Henry Dundas, Egerton Ryerson, Sir John A Macdonald and dozens of other historical names.

For 18 years since immigrating from China in 1992, Huang has been living the Canadian dream while giving a lot back. But her dream has become a nightmare.

The Souvenir Market operator is being turfed out of her 200-square-foot space at the St. Lawrence Market because the St. Lawrence Market, operated by the City of Toronto, has decided there are too many souvenir shops in the market.

So even though hers was the first one, it was decided it would be first out and there was nothing anybody could do to get the authorities to change their minds.

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Right up to the last minute she, and myself as well, hoped there would be a last-minute stay of eviction by Mayor John Tory, who has to know to that not only is this not right or fair but it is the city picking the winners and losers in life.

Huang is now unemployed with no prospects while a flower shop is set to move into her location without contributing anything to the market or city for nearly two decades. The good news is Huang gave it her best shot. She had lawyers helping her try to find a settlement, and customers and supporters trying to find alternative ideas to kicking her out.

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I pulled every string I know but no one in any position of power seems to care about Huang or her business. She has the next couple of days to clear out her stuff and be gone.

The nastiness of doing this to a woman during a pandemic with two years of shutdowns, lockdowns, no travel and disruptions is unprecedented. But it’s the way people went out of their way to smear her that troubles me.

Jenny Huang, owner of The Souvenir Market, closed up her shop in the St. Lawrence Market for the last time on Saturday, July 31, 2021.
Jenny Huang, owner of The Souvenir Market, closed up her shop in the St. Lawrence Market for the last time on Saturday, July 31, 2021. Photo by Joe Warmington /Toronto Sun/Postmedia Network

I was told she had been in violation of her lease agreement and had been cautioned about her rent payment.

Neither were true.

She always paid her rent and the only knocks on her were that she complained about a busker/panhandler with suspected addiction issues playing loudly in front of her business and that on Saturday’s she opened her shop at 8 a.m. instead of 5 a.m. as her contract asks for.

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She tried to open up at 5 a.m. but says her customers didn’t start rolling in until closer to 10 a.m. and it made no sense to be there so early.

Not only were the complaints against her manufactured, it was also whispered to me to go away and leave this story alone. But after looking into the accusations, I determined I was misled and was not going to be part of the piling on that I saw happening.

Few people stepped up for Huang, but knowing history like I do, it won’t surprise me if management now sets their sights on other shopkeepers.

If so, those business owners shouldn’t expect for a hero to come to their rescue.

Jenny Huang knows all too well the futility of holding out such hope.

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