26 year-old Jonathan Elvidge was hard-pressed to find original gifts for his family and friends one Christmas. He ditched his job as a technician at Kingston Communications, double mortgaged his home — in addition to securing a government guarantee loan — and opened a retail store selling off-beat products. Part of The Gadget Shop’s strategy involves securing locations in areas that can withstand a 30% to 40% downturn in store revenues. This has meant that the company has missed out on key sites such as Oxford Street in London, but enables them to keep individual stores profitable. With locations from Hull to Glasgow to Belfast, these groovy stores hawk inflatable furniture, lava lamps, and trendy yo-yo’s among other things. Revenues have grown from £2.3m in 1994 to £12.1m in 1997. When chief executive Elvidge left his technician’s job, his co-workers gave him a model Porsche 911. 21 stores later, he owns the real thing.
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