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Quest to find ‘Dr. Who’ merchandise becomes full-time business thanks to sci-fi fans, internet

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Posted at 5:58 PM, Jun 13, 2024

CAMBY, Ind. — Keith Bradbury is a collector.

“Growing up, I loved science fiction,” Bradbury said. “I was into Star Wars, [I] had all these Kenner Star Wars toys.”

From Battlestar Galactica to Star Trek, Bradbury consumed it all. So when a new sci-fi show from the BBC began airing locally on PBS, Bradbury’s interest peaked. But there was a problem.

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“The interesting thing about this British science-fiction television show was you couldn't buy anything for it,” Bradbury said. “You could get all the toys you wanted for Star Wars and other shows like that, but you couldn't get anything for 'Doctor Who.' So there was always this kind of deep growing interest in trying to get a hold of some of the products that I couldn't as a kid.”

Like all kids, Bradbury grew up. However, he never gave up on his quest for “Dr. Who” collectibles.

“When the 90s rolled around, and the Internet became a thing, I started doing a fan website,” Bradbury said. “We were connecting with other 'Doctor Who' fans throughout the United States. I went back into looking to see if I could find some of the 'Doctor Who' stuff from companies I was finding from the UK online.”

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Bradbury connected with a company named DAPOL. And while it didn’t typically ship merchandise to the United States, the company said it would if Bradbury made a purchase of at least $1,000.

“I put them on my website,” Bradbury said. “Within a week, I had to order more. And that's where it all began in 1998.”

Nearly three decades later, Bradbury’s shop, Who North America, is a bustling business.

“We get people regularly from everywhere,” Bradbury said. “The nice thing is, we're actually less than 15 minutes away from the Indianapolis International Airport, so we have quite a few people who will Uber over. It's quite common for people when they walk in the store, their jaws drop.”

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Who North America is filled with all kinds of “Dr. Who” memorabilia. It features everything from the time-traveling British police box known as the TARDIS, to a Dalek replica, and even a “Dr. Who” pinball machine, on freeplay of course.

“Our goal was to make this place where people could come and really experience 'Dr. Who.'”

For hours and location, you can visit Who North America’s website by clicking here.

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