This is the story about a small grocery store known by its customers as "Old Yang's". A family business located opposite to Nanjing Normal University on Hankou West Road, Nanjing, China, it stands out from the hundreds of its kind as a tiny international village to welcome both young and old from all over the world. However, rumors occurs that with the upcoming Asian Youth Olympic Games, the store is now facing its destiny of being removed by force.
Paper boxes pile up the cramped storefront of Old Yang's. Mr Yang (the middle-aged man in purple) has earned this spot since his wife got laid-off 10 years ago.
Ordinary in its appearance, Old Yang's has some unique glamour to the residents living around. For years, they have been used to paying a random visit to the grocery store sometime after dinner, grabbing one of the chairs provided by Mr Yang for anyone drops by, sitting down in front of the store and playing with the two dogs adopted by Mr Yang's daughter. Almost half of the store's business was supported by "Hui Tou Ke," or returning customers.
One of the most popular drinks in Old Young's is the ￥3 bottle yogourt produced by Wei Gang Dairy, Nanjing's local dairy factory. Mr Chen, 33, an officer in the municipal education bureau, says that he buys one bottle of yogurt for breakfast at Old Yang's every morning on his way to work, which has become his habit over the years.
Facing the main gate of Nanjing Normal University, Old Yang's is also next to 61 Livehouse, Nanjing's underground gathering place for music of all genres. This interesting site selection makes Old Yang's the perfect hangout spot for musicians and music lovers.
The night life just starts after midnight, when music lovers and students from the university arrive. They buy bottles of drinks from Old Yang's and sit down in front of the grocery store, chatting and talking about everything under the moon. The leisure and comfortable style of life on the sidewalk created a stark contrast to the traffic on Hankou West Road.
At Old Yang's, a Japanese couple are buying some drinks. Behind them, two European girls are paying for their snacks and drinks. It is without exaggeration to claim that you can witness the universal harmony in the world within a small scale here-people with different skin colors and backgrounds pay frequent visits to this tiny grocery store. Some international students even become intimate friends with Mr and Mrs Yang.
In June, 2014, Mr Yang received the notification letter from Gulou District Urban Management Bureau that the store is an "illegal building" and is scheduled to be removed by force in July. "I have all the licences to run this store. I think the only reason for this (removal) is I didn't pay money to the bureau, as many other grocery store owners have done," Mr Yang says.
Having no idea what to do if the store no longer exists, Mr Yang's daughter still tries to keep a smile on her face. "I'll say that life goes on anyway," Miss Yang says. "If this place were gone, I'm sure there will be another for us where we can meet again."
June 26th, 2014, 61 Livehouse. The cold raindrops falling down outside from the dark sky, the Chinese post-rock band Wangwen are playing tonight's last song "Welcome to Utopia", and the mood is just right for everyone to have a sweet dream.
6月26日晚，天空下着雨。大连后摇乐队惘闻在61 Livehouse演出，推广他们的新专辑《八匹马》，观者如云。图为他们正在表演新专辑的最后一首歌“Welcome to Utopia”（欢迎来到乌托邦）