Thai Phat Content Block 2
Encouraging customers to follow safety protocols was difficult at first, according to Anthony Tran, son of owners Chau Nguyen (John) and Hong Tran. Customers were upset about the requirement to wear a mask, but Anthony’s personal relationship with his customers helped. The store has signs posted in several places asking customers to wear masks and makes hand sanitizer and gloves available.
But I tell them this problem is not about yourself. About the other people and they keep going on going on. Then I have a few customer they do shopping in the store, they see it and they come and they back me up and they helping me. So right now all the customer they do it. The thing is to me, I think it’s not thinking about yourself, but thinking about all the person. If you thinking about all the person, that means you take care of yourself. —Anthony Tran, son of market owners
John and Huong Tran and their children immigrated to Vermont from Vietnam in 1993. In their village of Bien Hoa, they grew rice, fruit, and coffee, so it was a natural step to purchase Thai Phat from another Vietnamese immigrant, Andy Thai, in 2007. At that time, Anthony was employed at an auto body shop in East Hartford, Connecticut, where he had worked his way from cleaning cars to managing the entire shop. Despite the owner’s offer to give him the business, he chose to move to Burlington to help his parents in the market.
Whether chatting with customers, recommending recipes and locating ingredients, or unpacking deliveries and stocking shelves, Anthony exudes a warmth and energy that is contagious. Family members share tasks, whether washing and packaging fruits and vegetables, cutting tofu for bulk sale in buckets of water, or arranging the fresh fish for display. The market is usually open from 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. but stays open later if busy.
In the early years, the market served mainly Asian customers from Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, and China. As interest in international cuisine has grown, so has the customer base. Restaurant owners and Asian food lovers travel to Thai Phat from all over Vermont.