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Ho Chi Minh City couple ‘sell’ $0 clothes to needy workers

Thursday, January 02, 2020, 19:38 GMT+7
Ho Chi Minh City couple ‘sell’ $0 clothes to needy workers
Nguyen Van Tu (R) and Le Thi Be sit in front of their fixed clothing store in an alley on Nguyen Van Tao Street in Nha Be District, Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Ngoc Phuong / Tuoi Tre

People living in the outlying district of Nha Be and District 4 in Ho Chi Minh City have been familiar with a 'zero dong' mobile clothing store run by a senior married couple, who ‘sell’ clothes to local low-income workers and accept but a smile from buyers as payment.

Nguyen Van Tu, 80, and his wife Le Thi Be, 65, have run their free clothing store for three years.

In the early days of the charitable business, they set up in a small space in front of their house in an alley on Nguyen Van Tao Street in Nha Be and spent their own money buying old clothes from second-hand clothing shops.

Tu told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper that they named their shop 'all-you-can-wear clothes for zero dong' instead of calling it a charity shop because they wanted to show respect for hapless people.

The 80-year-old man said he is happy as long as his customers are free to choose the items they like and pay him with a smile.

Tu and Be have since expanded their ‘business’ by adding a mobile store.

Nguyen Van Tu (R) and Le Thi Be next to their mobile clothing store at an alley on Nguyen Van Tao Street in Nha Be District, Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Ngoc Phuong / Tuoi Tre

Nguyen Van Tu (R) and Le Thi Be next to their mobile clothing store down an alley on Nguyen Van Tao Street in Nha Be District, Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Ngoc Phuong / Tuoi Tre

A woman donates her clothes to Nguyen Van Tu’s mobile shop. Photo: Ngoc Phuong / Tuoi Tre

A woman donates her clothes to Nguyen Van Tu’s mobile shop. Photo: Ngoc Phuong / Tuoi Tre

Nguyen Van Tu gives free clothes to people on a street in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Ngoc Phuong / Tuoi Tre

Nguyen Van Tu gives free clothes to people on a street in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Ngoc Phuong / Tuoi Tre

Every day, the husband drives a tuk-tuk carrying free clothes around neighborhoods where many blue-collar workers live to offer them clothes at no cost.

He frequents District 4 in the morning and Nha Be District in the afternoon.

Le Thi Kim Anh, a 55-year-old housekeeper in District 4, told Tuoi Tre that she appreciates what Tu does as he only gives away intact and clean clothes.

As word spreads about Tu and Be’s charitable work, more people have donated garments to the husband whenever they see him drive by, or even brought the items to the couple’s doorstep.

Tu currently communicates with people with the help of an electrolarynx as he has lost his voice after a serious illness.

Asked what they wish for in their old age, the couple said they want to maintain the ‘zero dong’ clothing business for as long as possible.

“I feel happier and stronger when I see people able to find a piece of garment that fits them,” Tu said.

Nguyen Van Tu (R) talks with a woman on a street in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Ngoc Phuong / Tuoi Tre

Nguyen Van Tu (R) talks with a woman on a street in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Ngoc Phuong / Tuoi Tre

Nguyen Van Tu parks his tuk-tuk on a street in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Ngoc Phuong / Tuoi Tre

Nguyen Van Tu parks his tuk-tuk on a street in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Ngoc Phuong / Tuoi Tre

Nguyen Van Tu gives free clothes to a woman in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Ngoc Phuong / Tuoi Tre

Nguyen Van Tu gives free clothes to a woman in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Ngoc Phuong / Tuoi Tre

Le Thi Be runs the brick-and-mortar clothing store at an alley on Nguyen Van Tao Street in Nha Be District, Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Ngoc Phuong / Tuoi Tre

Le Thi Be runs their fixed clothing store in an alley on Nguyen Van Tao Street in Nha Be District, Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Ngoc Phuong / Tuoi Tre

Nguyen Van Tu drives a tuk-tuk offering free clothes in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Ngoc Phuong / Tuoi Tre

Nguyen Van Tu drives a tuk-tuk offering free clothes in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Ngoc Phuong / Tuoi Tre

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