LAKEWOOD RANCH — Phil and Emma Pedley have visited the United States from the United Kingdom for the last 20 years.
Now, in recent months, their dream to own a business here became more than just a wish.
On June 1, the couple took ownership of Wish on Main, one of the original retailers on Lakewood Ranch Main Street. The shop offers a wide variety of gift items, from Vera Bradley purses to lotions, jewelry and other items.
The scenario is a dream-come-true particularly for Phil Pedley, who previously owned his own plumbing and heating company in the U.K. Emma worked as an accountant at a law firm before making the move.
“A lot of people (just) talk about doing this,” Phil Pedley said. “We did it. It’s a great way of life.”
The Pedleys have vacationed in the U.S. for several decades, spending most of their time in Florida. Throughout the years, they’d discussed the possibility of moving here — even buying a vacation home in Orlando in 2003, which they later sold — but the thought only turned serious about two years ago.
To make their dream come true, the couple put their house up for sale in the U.K. so they could use the money from it to buy a business in the U.S. They sold their home, rented a place to live and began looking for business opportunities, Phil Pedley said.
Sarasota caught Phil Pedley’s eye after he conducted a little research. But when he and Emma visited the area around Christmastime, they also checked out Wish on Main as a potential store to buy. The more they saw the location, the more they fell in love with it and with Lakewood Ranch and the East County.
“This (business) was the only one (of our options) that jumped out,” Phil Pedley said. “We found this one and we thought it would be nice — something completely different from what we were doing before.”
The couple began negotiating with the store’s owners Donna and Kevin Brundage, who opened the store with their daughter, Jenni Berry, and secured an investment Visa, with which they could come to the United States.
The Pedleys have had to overcome several challenges, including difficulty securing loans or even a credit card without any financial history in the U.S., but they are excited to move forward.
The couple has virtually no changes in store for Wish. In fact, merchandise lines will remain the same so regular customers know what to expect. And even the employees are the same, with the addition of the Pedleys and their daughter, Amelia, who will start as a junior at Lakewood Ranch High School in August.
The only real addition in the works is a business website, which is under development and expected to be finished within a month. Phil Pedley said once the site is completed, customers will be able to order products online.
The couple is enjoying the warm, sunny Florida weather — a stark contrast to their life in the U.K. — and is eager to attend their first-ever high school football game, among other activities.
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Amelia Pedley, daughter of Wish owners Phil and Emma and an employee of the store, will start at Lakewood Ranch High School in August — although she has completed her required education back in England.
There, children complete school at age 16. If they wish to attend a university, they can continue their education for another two years. If not, they can attend what is equivalent to a community college or secure an apprenticeship, the Pedleys said.