Ho Cheung Li

Mermaid Avenue pharmacist dispenses news and advice to new immigrants

Ho Cheung Li
Interview Date:
August 28, 2015


Ho Cheung Li's J & R Pharmacy is on Mermaid Avenue at the corner of West 23rd Street in Coney Island. He and his family live upstairs.  Li emigrated from Hong Kong when he was in his 20s and spent more than four years in school to regain his pharmacist's license. "Serving the customer is the main point of being a pharmacist," says Li, who enjoys interacting with people in the community after previously working at what he describes as boring jobs at chain store and hospital pharmacies. Since his pharmacy is the only store that sells the Chinese newspaper within a 2-mile radius, he says it's a hangout for new Chinese immigrants, including seniors who speak no English. They look to him for news of America and the world, and advice. "You have to melt into the society to get a better life," he says, in reference to America being "the melting pot."

This program is part of the Cultural Immigrant Initiative supported, in part, by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, and New York City Councilman Mark Treyger.