Perak boy dresses up as Spider-Man and sells petai to earn a living

Selvakumar decided to take up the business to earn some extra cash in his free time. — Picture courtesy of SJ Echo.
Selvakumar decided to take up the business to earn some extra cash in his free time. — Picture courtesy of SJ Echo.

PETALING JAYA, Aug 26 — It isn’t every day that you see Spider-Man standing at the side of the road peddling petai.

Unless you’ve seen Selvakumar K. Tharmalingam from Slim River, Perak and what he has been doing for the last couple months.

The 22-year-old, currently pursuing a bachelor’s in Business Administration, told SJ Echo that he decided to “resume” an old family business because of the extra free time that he now has, with all of his classes being conducted online.

“I started selling petai two months ago. My grandfather used to sell petai but no one in the family took over the business from him. I thought, why not give it a try?” said Selvakumar.

Selvakumar said he chose to “be” Spider-Man because it is a character that is loved by many. —Picture courtesy of SJ Echo.
Selvakumar said he chose to “be” Spider-Man because it is a character that is loved by many. —Picture courtesy of SJ Echo.

“I didn’t want to be just another petai seller. So, I came up with the idea to wear a Spider-Man suit to attract customers.”

It turned out to be a smart move on his end, as “Spider-Man Petai” began turning heads wherever he went.

“People are attracted to Spider-Man, and then they buy the petai from me. So, my marketing strategy actually works. It proves to me that one must not only work hard but smart as well,” said the second-year student.

Selvakumar also told Astro Ulagam that many passersby are often intrigued by the sight of him and will stop to take a picture, before ending up buying a bunch of his petai, priced at RM10.

He added that he buys the petai from an Orang Asli community in Perak and sells it at multiple locations including the Slim River night market, Ipoh and Kuala Kubu Baru in Selangor.

Selvakumar has travelled multiple times over the past month, for some 50km to Kuala Kubu Baru and 100km to Ipoh each time from his hometown.

While the journey may be a long one, Selvakumar said that his petai business is doing and that his income has been enough to take care of himself and his grandmother (who he lives with).

“My parents are divorced. My mother lives in Kuala Lumpur with my younger brother and sister,” he said.

Selvakumar added that while he doesn’t mind putting on the full Spider-Man suit under the scorching Malaysian heat to earn a living, he does hope to one day live his childhood dream.

“I want to be a policeman someday. It is something I have wanted for as long as I can remember,” he said to SJ Echo.

Astro Ulagam reported that Selvakumar hopes this petai business can help put himself through university as he had to rely on study loans while taking his diploma.

 

Selvakumar has since become a social media star of sorts in recent weeks, grabbing the attention of many, which has boosted business as well.

Now, because of Spider-Man Petai’s newfound fame, would-be customers need to place their order a week in advance by contacting him on social media (@spiderman_petai) or via Whatsapp at 010-382 7169.

Orders are available via self-collection, but Selvakumar said that home deliveries can also be arranged.

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