Neko Chan Trading Company was founded in 1996 by Carol and Dave Rahbari, mother and son, who were working as teachers, both of whom were practicing Buddhists, Mom in the Japanese Tendai tradition and Dave in Tibetan Nyingma. Mom had closed up her condo and traveled for most of 1994, across the southwest U.S, Mexico, Hawaii, and Japan, and returned to Southeast Michigan and teaching for winter ‘95. Meanwhile, Dave had been exploring opening a book store, and the next year was full of information gathering, planning, then some fun and nutty photo shoots, and the evolution of Neko-Chan. Now Neko-Chan has been in business for 17 years, with Dave and Carol still nominally at the helm. (The cats of course actually run things.) Carol’s favorite job is Customer Service. Dave is the “warehouse manager” and takes care of the heavy end of things. When not on duty at Neko-Chan HQ, Dave is an actor in small films and writes speculative fiction.
In the late summer of 1996, our first Neko-Chan catalog went to the printer, and into the mail in the fall of that year. Our first (very low tech by today’s standards) website went up the following year. The original intention was to make a wide range of spiritual books available, especially in Buddhist studies. As the business took form, we realized that lots of very neat stuff fit nicely with these books, and incense and incense burners were added, then malas and other practice materials. We are a small family business, and we like to deal with small suppliers--families in many cases. As we have shopped for products for the business, we have met some wonderful people, from Tokyo to Seoul, to Bangkok, from Kathmandu to Dharamsala, from the Southwest and the Northwest U.S. and Western Canada where the sweetgrass and sage are harvested. Many of our suppliers have amazing stories, and we are proud to carry their products.
Buddhism in the U.S. has grown since we began the business, with a wide diversity among practitioners. Many of our customers whom we met as we were starting up were themselves just starting on very interesting spiritual paths and are still with us; the excitement continues as new seekers contact us. We treasure our veteran practitioners, and welcome those new to their practices.
The name Neko-Chan means "little cat" in Japanese. Neko = cat, and Chan = diminutive honorific … “Kitty Cat” or “Little Kitty”.
As part of the family, cats have always held top positions in the company. Our Chairman of the Board is Johnny B. Wellington, a portly fellow, part Maine Coon and much faster than he looks. Our Public Relations Officer is Moe Riley, an extremely outgoing Tabby who talks nonstop. Murthi, a long haired Calico, rounds out our feline division as Security Consultant. Her paranoia is actually an asset to this post.
From our family to yours,
Welcome to Neko-Chan!
Neko-Chan’s Policy on Selling Goods Made in China
In support of our Tibetan friends and teachers, and with love and respect for the Chinese people, Neko-Chan Trading Company will not knowingly sell any goods made in the People’s Republic of China. We instituted this policy in 1996, when we started our business, to protest the Chinese take-over and occupation of Tibet, and to avoid complicity in the violation of human rights. We do our best to research our suppliers. We will not knowingly deal in any items which are produced by “sweatshops,” prison labor, slave labor, child labor, or any practices which disregard the welfare of the worker. We recognize that these abuses occur in many countries, including the United States. Thus, regardless of the country of origin, we will endeavor to avoid suppliers who practice any such exploitation.
It is our conviction that economics should never be the sole consideration in human enterprise.