Home Front: Asian Influence Comes to Broad 

Two hundred wooden panels dovetail together without nails or screws to frame the traditional Chinese marriage bed at the back of Three Swallows on West Broad Street. The bed dates back about 150 years to the later Ch'ing Dynasty, and the owner, Yanxi Li, hopes to sell it for close to $8,500.

For the past five years, Li has sold antiques she's brought back from trips to China, Mongolia, Tibet, Nepal and Thailand at Three Swallow's Norfolk location. There, she sells mainly wholesale, but business has been going so well Li decided to expand to Richmond last month to give direct retail a try.

Of course, not everyone's in the market for a marriage bed, so there are some more practical items, as well, at the store's 1839 W. Broad St. location. The stone statuary is popular with landscapers, Li says, because the natural rock can withstand the weather so well.

Three Swallows also has a collection of Mao memorabilia. During the 1950s, traditions shifted. Instead of a marriage bed, couples would get round red pins imprinted with Chairman Mao's image as their only wedding presents, Li says. Now little red books, clocks that use Mao's swinging arms to tell the time and the pins ($10) have become collectible pieces. — Amy Biegelsen


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