Shop owner has world at his fingertips

Wales native runs his shop WISE-ly

In a small office at the rear of his store on Brandt Pike an elderly man sits alone for hours every day in front of his computer, yet still in touch with the world.

Sweet technology.

The 76-year-old man, Harry Caswell, is his 16th year as owner and operator of the WISE Choice business, which sells items from across the Atlantic Ocean. WISE cleverly stands for Wales, Ireland, Scotland and England, the countries that provide his stock.

At his fingertips is every corner of the country, and he has customers in Puerto Rico, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Norway, France, Switzerland and Brazil — just to name a few.

More than half his trade transcends thousands of miles from Huber Heights, where he settled 43 years ago.

When Caswell was a young man growing up amid the dark coal mines of Wales, such magic never seemed possible. Besides, looming in his future were the mines, like many of his high school graduation buddies. His father intervened.

“My father asked me to let my friends work the mines for one week, then approach them and get their reaction to the mines,” Caswell said. “They talked about working on their backs in virtual darkness and having difficulty breathing.”

“So I told my father the mines weren’t for me … and thanks to his perseverance I turned my back on the mines and later headed for America.”

Because of his worldly knowledge, particularly England, he has volunteered his time the past four years teaching Wayne High School seniors’ English classes about other countries. “And they really love it and the contentment on their faces is my reward,” said Caswell, who spent his earlier years in the U.S. working as a metal cutting tool sales rep in Detroit and later as an engineer at Delco in Dayton.

“After 22 years at Delco, my wife (Sheila) talked me into retiring and going into business,” said Caswell. “And we worked together until she died of a brain tumor at the age of 57. … We were married 35 memorable years, and I really miss her.”

The amiable Welshman later had a tree planted at Cloud Park in her memory. It is a beautiful bed of flowers he tends to regularly.

The widespread inventory in his sore includes such favorite items as uniquely British teapots, candies, miscellaneous grocery products, frozen foods, blood pudding, Australian meat pie, bacon, souvenir T-shirts, 1912 Olympic memorabilia and the always popular British bangers.

“Plus, of course, I can usually acquire any items that a customer is looking for,” said Caswell.

A particular highlight he recalls was being contacted by Warner Bros. “They had scoured the country looking or a particular teapot for a table scene in a movie and I happened to have one in stock. And they also gave me a big order for other items.

The movie was “Body of Lies,” starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Russell Crowe. “That’s the closest I’ll ever get to making it in Hollywood,” said Caswell.

He also remembers the day an elderly couple pulled up in front of the store in a sidecar motorcycle. “The guy driving was 86 and his wife in the sidecar was 81,” said Caswell. “The were from Missouri and were headed from New York. They had heard about the store … and stopped in for a spot of tea.”

The website contact for Caswell is at; phone: (937) 236-8153.

About the Author