“Never judge a person by the way they are dressed,” says Erianne Pearson. “People are people. We treat them with respect.”

That philosophy has kept Pearson in business since 1983, when The Best of All Worlds, her upscale gift and decorative accessories store, opened. One of four original partners, she’s been the sole owner for nearly 13 years. The store is on the corner of Sixth and Union streets in the heart of Seattle’s busy retail business district.

“Eriann’s a bit of a pioneer . . . certainly a survivor by independent small-business-owner standards,” says friend and client Marcia Garrett of Washington State University West.

Pearson’s merchandise reflects a “country European” flavor. Moving through the store, she stops to comment on the fine French table linens and dolls from Germany. She points out the distinctive antique design of the Juliska glassware from the Czech Republic, how it contrasts to the simple Simon Pearce glassware hand-made in Vermont. Bars of body soaps in different hues, fragrances, and shapes are imported from France. There’s a line of baby gifts, handwoven blankets, silver Christmas ornaments, and Christopher Radko glass ornaments, the latter made mainly in Poland.

Pearson seeks the new, the different, the hard-to-find. Her collection of German nutcrackers, valued by collectors, is the largest in downtown Seattle.

Many of the store’s clients are young professionals working downtown. “Some are familiar with European products and have an appreciation for beautiful gifts,” Pearson says.

The store has been in business long enough to establish a reputation. Promotion is modest. Nothing is better than word of mouth, if customers are pleased.

Pearson (’63 Home Ec.) lived in Community Hall during her four years at WSU, including one year as residence hall president. While earning her degree, she took classes in cooking and sewing, art and interior design. She taught junior-high home economics/education for three years in the Renton School District, not far from her Tukwila roots. She dropped out of the work force to raise a son and daughter, before jumping back in to help launch The Best of All Worlds.

She says she really didn’t know what to expect in the beginning. “You have to be tenacious, work hard, and hold on. If you can do that, it has its rewards.”

“It’s wonderful being your own boss. Of course, if things go bad, you have only one person to blame–yourself,” she says. But it’s “a learning experience dealing with the public. Those who enjoy that should march ahead and do it.”