Just 18 months later she was a widow.
Thorn had a good job with T-Mobile at the time, and though she was still reeling with grief, she loved her new country and decided to stay. Eventually, she took a buyout but remained in England as a change management consultant for a myriad large corporations.
A nagging thought stayed in the back of her mind: “I kept thinking that I would love to have my own business,” Thorn said.
She started looking for a business to buy in 2008. She looked everywhere: from England to Spain and North Carolina.
"One day I found a listing for a business for sale in Dunedin," she said. "When I started researching the town, it looked so cute, so I flew down and stayed at the Meranova Inn. The business had already been sold but I went around to local merchants and introduced myself."
She got a phone call from the owner of The Celtic Shop of Dunedin saying she was willing to sell.
"I had just spent the last 13 years visiting as many places in Scotland and Ireland as I could," Thorn said. "It was meant to be.”
Even with serendipity intervening, it was a difficult task to relocate to Dunedin. First, Thorn had to sell her house. That took 10 months. Then, when she arrived in America she had no credit because she had lived in England for so long. She had to wait six months before she was eligible to buy the store. Luckily, the former owner was patient and willing to wait.
Thorn worked in the store and learned everything about it during the six-month interim.
“I still had a steep learning curve," Thorn said "I thought I knew a lot about Scotland and Ireland but now I had to know every symbol and the story behind it. For example the thistle is the national flower of Scotland because it is famed to have saved some Scottish clansmen from attacking Norsemen. The attack was set at night, and in order to creep up on the clansmen, the Norsemen removed their shoes. Their cries of pain from the thistles woke the Scotsmen and the Norsemen were defeated.”
Though the transition was tough, Thorn has never been happier.
“One of the things I learned from Clive dying is that life is too short, so go for it. If it doesn’t work just go do something else. I have skills, other skills to fall back on. But I am living my dream. Owning this store is not a job. It’s not a chore. I love coming to work every day. I have a plaque in my house that says ‘I wasn’t born in paradise but I came as quickly as I could,’ and that defines how I feel about owning The Celtic Shop in Dunedin.”
Want to go?
Need a doggie bandana, or a black sheep salt and pepper shaker? Or do you know someone Irish who is expecting? Then buy them a “Made in America with Irish Parts” onsie at the Celtic Shop.
Then review your experience on Patch!
- Where: The Celtic Shop of Dunedin, 354 Main St
- Contact: 727-733-2200, www.celticshopdunedin.com
- Hours: Monday to Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sunday, noon to 4 p.m.