All News & Blogs
A Thai villager who was the first in her family to get a college degree is opening a retail store in Central Park.
Tik Pearson, shown with her husband, Craig, and daughter Jenny, has opened a retail store in Central Park.
REZA MARVASHTI/THE FREE LANCE-STAR
Visit the Photo Place
Date published: 10/28/2012
Rattana "Tik" Chalermpong Pearson had no idea where she'd live or how she'd earn a living the day she boarded a bus near her rural village in Thailand.
Tears streamed down her face that day nearly a dozen years ago. The then 20-year-old hadn't told her parents she was headed for the bustling city of Bangkok and a chance to become the first in her family to earn a college degree.
"My dad and my mom didn't go to school," said Pearson, who grew up the youngest of six children on a small farm in Chantaburi province. "They didn't understand that education [is] very important. I think it can change your life."
Today, a dozen years later, she is married to an American, lives with him and their 6-year-old daughter outside of Manassas, and has opened a retail shop, The Rikki Tikki Company, in Central Park.
It "marks the end of a journey and the beginning of a dream come true" for her, according to her husband, Craig Pearson, a government contractor who met her while on business in Thailand.
Pearson's new venture is a nod to her nickname and the short story about a valiant mongoose who battles cobras in Rudyard Kipling's "The Jungle Book." Like the mongoose, Rikki-Tikki-Tavi, she grew up in a jungle and used to work in an area where cobras lurked.
There are no snakes in her new store, which is located next to Panda Express in the former location of a The Healthy Back Store. But there are plenty of mounted and framed butterflies and moths that had been raised on a Thai farm. One species, the giant Atlas moth, has wings that resemble a cobra's head in profile.
The Rikki Tikki Company also carries a variety of home decor ranging from Chinese brush paintings and replicas of Thailand's famed Emerald Buddha to colorful wooden masks and statues carved in Bali to Asian porcelain and trinket boxes decorated with inlay.
But the Pearsons are quick to point that they offer something for everyone, including inexpensive key rings, cloth shoes made by Thailand's hill people, knitted hats from Nepal and other clothing and accessories, plus toys, games, glassware and silverware. There's also an assortment of collectibles, including military and sports memorabilia, that are her husband's contributions.