Teen Robbers Change a TE Community Forever

They robbed a shop owner of much more than money but gave the community a chance to show how great TE is.

When two teenage robbers jumped Mr. Yang they took his money and the sight in one eye.

The two convicted robbers are now growing up in prison where they will spend a significant chunk of their early adult years. They have been convicted for plotting, casing, then robbing Yong Yang at knife-point as he got into his delivery van back in late January.

The attack left Mr. Yang virtually blind in one eye. As a result he was left unable to drive and thus unable to pick up the fresh produce he hand selected every morning from suppliers in Philadelphia before driving to his store in Berwyn.

What happened next is the story of one of TE's best gifts of 2012.

Within days of the attack, another successful small business owner had a simple idea: what if she asked asked other small business owners in Berwyn to pitch in $100 to help "Mr. Yang" (as everyone calls him) with expenses that aren't covered by insurance.

Kim Cuthbert (who owns and operates Sweet Jazmines Pastry Shop) got together with Stacey Ballard of Eadeh Enterprises (the landlord for Mr. Yang's store) and, eventhough they didn't know it at the time, a movement was born.

Mr. Yang's is a story that every small business owner fears and understands. Even the most successful small business can hang by a thread at times, especially in 2012's economic conditions.

Yang's former son in law had worked at Yang's Market for years and was able to keep things going as Mr. Yang underwent several rounds of surgery to try to save the sight in his injured eye.

Meanwhile, Mr. Yang's medical bills and new expenses not covered by his insurance quickly rose.

Berwyn's small business owners and the community at large quickly rose to the occasion, raising more than $30,000 dollars in a matter of weeks to help Mr. Yang.

Cuthbert and Ballard knocked on doors and simply asked fellow business owner for help. The response was overwhelming from entrepreneurs who did not hesitate to donate.

In early March, 100 diners filled Aneu Bistro and Wine Bar  to enjoy dinner and help raise money to support Yong Yang's recovery after the brutal attack and robbery at Yang's Market next door to Aneu.

Aneu owner Meridith Coyle and Berwyn Glass owner Doug Kirschner organized the dinner to help their long-time next door business neighbor.  Coyle signed on as soon Kirschner approached her with the idea.

At Sweet Jazmine's customers flocked to buy cupcakes during several "bake sales" for Mr. Yang and to sign a get well card. People who heard the story of what happened to Mr. Yang stuffed a collection jar with cash and checks.

As spring started turning to summer Mr. Yang and his family made the decision to close the store for good. For the 70 year old shop owner who had come to the United States 37 years earlier with only his daughter and the desire to make a better life for his family the injuries he suffered in the attack were too big to keep the business going in the same way he had operated for 14 years.

Mr. Yang's story doesn't end there.

Aneu Bistro owner Meredith Coyle bought out the lease and took over the space, completely renovating and transforming the former Yang's Market into Fresh Ideas. The new store features a lunch menu, specialty and gourmet food items and Mr. Yang.  A familiar face is still a staple in the new shop. Mr. Yang works as he is able, bringing his years of produce expertise and his smile to customers.

Hundreds of small business owners, customers and just people with big hearts have given not only Mr. Yang gifts that have helped meet his needs, they have  given the community at large an even bigger gift. They have given the community a victory of good over evil and a reminder that neighbors and communities look out for one another.

That is a gift that is truly priceless.



Bob Byrne December 30, 2012 at 12:36 PM
When I talk to colleagues within Patch about why I love the TE community this is often the first story I use to illustrate the depth of caring and kindness that exists within Tredyffrin and Easttown. In 30 years of reporting, few stories have touched me the way this way does. It is a wonderful illustration of what the terms "neighbor" and "community" are all about. This story doesn't end here. One more incredible gift came out of this story in 2012, from someone who is generous in a way that moved even an observer who perhaps thought "she had seen it all." That story sums up 2012 in Tredyfrrin and Easttown - Look for it New Year's Eve on TE Patch.
Susan December 30, 2012 at 04:00 PM
Truly the most heartwarming story of the year. I hope Mr. Yang continues to improve and wish him and his family well. TE businesses and citizens, you personify the word community. Thank you for showing what is right and good in the world.


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