Entrepreneur stories: Gary Sedan of Made in Britain

gary-sedanAfter graduating, Gary Sedan moved from New Jersey to Chicago to work as an acoustical engineer and later a marketing manager for a consumer electronics company. In 2000 he left his former career behind and set up Made In Britain. So, why does an American end up selling British-related goods from a store in picturesque Egg Harbor, in Door County, Wisconsin?

“My wife and I are children of the 1960s and we’re both major Anglophiles. Growing up, we were immersed in British culture, whether it was music by The Beatles, Stones and Kinks, James Bond films or TV shows such as The Avengers and The Prisoner. My wife and I are both very interested in British history, too.

 “My wife and I are children of the 1960s and we’re both major Anglophiles. Growing up, we were immersed in British culture” – Gary Sedan

“I wanted to live in Door County, it’s a place of outstanding natural beauty – similar to the Lake District in the UK – but I needed a way to make a living. At the time I was working as a marketing manager at a Chicago-based consumer electronics company, previously I’d been a loudspeaker designer. Setting up the business, Made In Britain, offered the solution.

“I sell a large range of popular foodstuffs imported from the UK, as well as T-shirts, teapots, ceramics, mugs, glasses, place mats, fridge magnets, pub and street signs, books, maps, pens, posters – all UK-related.

“Many Americans love British things – The Beatles, Monty Python, Doctor Who, Downton Abbey, I sell items related to each” – Gary Sedan

“A few Brits have come into the shop over the years, but my customers are mostly Americans. London is still the number one overseas tourist destination for Americans. Many Americans love British things – The Beatles, Monty Python, Doctor Who, Downton Abbey, I sell items related to each, as well as London Underground signs, products related to British soccer teams, etc. Because demand for British goods is strong here, I was confident my business would succeed.

“Most of my sales are made at my Egg Harbor store, but I set up an online Amazon store in 2012, and sales from that have also been good. I also sell from my own website to customers all over the States, and orders are processed, packed and shipped within two business days, reaching customers in one to four days, depending where they live.

“My best-selling products include sticky toffee sauce, Beatles and Monty Python T-shirts, as well as Doctor Who souvenirs” – Gary Sedan

“I have a large table in the store from which customers can sample curds, biscuits, preserves, mustards and chutneys and that helps to ensure that each sells well – as do most of the food items I stock. My best-selling products include sticky toffee sauce, Beatles and Monty Python T-shirts, as well as Doctor Who souvenirs.

“Importing products from the UK provides my business with competitive advantage. Sourcing goods is a never-ending process, but importing isn’t a problem because I use a good importer. The lead-time can be an issue, because I rely on ocean shipment, because air shipment costs are far too expensive.

“Talk to your customers, stay close to them if you want to know what they want to buy” – Gary Sedan

“What lessons have I learned by running my own small retail business? Always be looking for the next product to stock, and don’t be afraid to try new things. Talk to your customers, stay close to them if you want to know what they want to buy. And, finally – working for yourself sure beats working for someone else.”

  • This profile/case study was published by Hibu (Yell) in the USA and commissioned by Atom Content Marketing.