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Are you an Anglophile? Have you ever thought about owning a small business? If you have, this could be just the opportunity you have been waiting for.
Harry Caswell, owner of Wise Choice British Foods, Gifts & Candies, has decided at the age of 81, it's time to hang up the apron and sell the business that he loves so that he can finally retire.
Caswell, along with his wife Shelia and his two children emigrated to the States in 1969 from a small coal-mining village in South Wales, U.K. called Cwmgwrach (interpretation: Valley of the Witches). After a brief stay in Detriot, Michigan, his work as a cutting tool salesman brought him to Huber Heights in 1971.
Fast forward to Christmas 1996, Shelia and Harry arranged the purchase of the assets of the British Corner Shop, which was located in Fairborn. Sheila felt the urge to live the American Dream of owning her own business. Harry who worked as an engineer at Delphi in Kettering agreed, her dream was about to become a reality.
Wise Choice British Foods, Gifts & Candies - an acronym for Wales, Ireland, Scotland & England - opened its doors in the Marion Shopping Center, Huber Heights, on June 2nd, 1996.
Photo: The opening ceremony was performed by the Mayor of Huber Heights and his wife.
In 2003 the store moved to a larger space to accommodate the growing appetite of locals for their British fix. "People can't get enough of Cadbury chocolate bars, and we have a huge variety of them" Caswell said. "American chocolate pales in comparison, and the Cadbury we sell is the real deal, not the awful licensed version by Hershey that you get at all box stores."
Caswell informed us other top sellers include the range of British and Irish-style bangers (sausages), back bacons, Heinz baked beans, branston pickle (a popular jar of pickled chutney), and Mr. Kipling cakes. "I could go on forever, did I mention the cheeky birthday cards?" Caswell said. "One of the things people love about our little store is the variety. Even Jungle Jims doesn't carry nearly the same amount of British products that we do."
Asked what he will miss most about the store, Caswell told us it was meeting the many people, from all different walks of life that walked through the doors.
"The personal relationships I have developed with complete strangers, who have become loyal customers and true friends." Caswell said. "But at eighty-one years of age, it’s time to pass on the baton to a new proprietor."
Wise Choice has built a loyal following over 20 years, both locally and online. "A lot of our walk-in business is word of mouth," Caswell said. "People who have never been to Britain but are curious, the many members of the American Armed Forces who have served in the UK, but we get all kinds of people driving from miles around to shop with us".
The business also has a thriving website and facebook page, which Caswell told us has allowed the business to grow exponentially over the years, shipping British goodies to customers in every corner of the United States, Canada and around the globe.
For those who are genuinely interested in discussing a purchase, please call 937-233-7079 between the hours of 9am and 9pm.