CAMDEN — There is a certain amount of pressure that Lori Janosik Morrison faces every day as she tries to continue to deliver upon the values that made her father, Johnny Janosik, one of the most respected businessmen in Delaware.
However, just continuing the family tradition isn’t enough for Mrs. Janosik Morrison, president and co-owner of Johnny Janosik World of Furniture.
She puts the pressure on herself to keep her family’s furniture business on an upward growth pattern, as well as ensuring its long-standing reputation of being a valued member of the communities it serves.
“The best advice my parents ever gave me was nothing’s ever handed to you, work hard and then my dad always said, ‘Money is only as good as what you do with it,’” Mrs. Morrison said. “They believed in helping the community and giving.
“People know the Janosik name and they know that we’re honest and fair and we give great service. That’s what our dad always believed in, because if you don’t give good service, nobody’s going to come back.”
Mrs. Morrison watched her father’s legacy grow as a sparkling new 60,000-square-foot Johnny Janosik World of Furniture and Mattresses store opened its doors for its “soft opening” on Feb. 17 at 4719 S. Dupont Highway, just south of Dover.
The new store brings back some bittersweet memories for Mrs. Morrison, who participated in the groundbreaking of the new store on July 8 of last year, just seven days after her father passed away at the age of 90.
It marked a time when she and other members of the Janosik company had to find strength to march forward with
her father’s vision.
“He had plans to build here (near Dover) years ago, so it’s just continuing on with what his wishes were,” said Mrs. Morrison. “Expansion … he always had something different going on.”
It was easy to see the tremendous amount of respect the late Mr. Janosik carried with him during that groundbreaking event last summer.
“With the passing of Johnny (the new store) becomes more and more a part of his legacy, so I think we’re just glad to be a small part of that,” said Brad Gillis, principal of Salisbury, Md.-based developer Devrico, at the groundbreaking.
“We’re just very excited to be a very small part of the legacy of Johnny Janosik and we think this store is going to be that much more of a showpiece for what Johnny Janosik stands for.”
Parents’ business sense
Mrs. Morrison, 57, knows first-hand what her father and mother, Mary Louise, have always stood for.
She said it is what drives her business sense. After all, she has spent the majority of her life working for the family business.
“I enjoy just being a Janosik,” she said. “I think my parents looked at me to perform and learn from their example, which I did.
“My earliest memory of working would be after school going up to (my dad’s) store and filling out warranty cards for all of the TVs when I was around 12 years old.”
Mr. Janosik, born in Hopewell, Virginia during the Great Depression, started out as an electronics repairman in Laurel, where he was able to put his military training as a radio technician to use.
Mr. Janosik began his business career in Laurel after a stint in the Navy in World War II and founded Johnny’s TV Service downtown in 1953.
A transition into the furniture business took place over time, which led to a move into a long chicken house just off U.S. 13 in Laurel. Mr. Janosik’s furniture store eventually became famously known as “The Longest Store on the Shore with the Shortest Prices.”
“I remember the first commercial he made,” Mrs. Morrison said. “He was walking in a chicken house and he said, ‘Where else could you find the best prices?’ and then they showed his feet and there were all little chickens are everywhere. It was really cute.”
It was from observing her parents’ actions that she also developed a passion for philanthropy work.
Mrs. Morrison makes sure the company continues to give back to the communities they serve in both Dover and Laurel, which is home to the mammoth 180,000-square-foot Johnny Janosik World of Furniture store that opened in 2005, right near the old chicken house, which remains a part of the operation.
Some of the charities the Janosik Family Charitable Foundation gives back to are Habitat for Humanity, Boys & Girls Clubs and local schools. They also host an annual golf tournament fundraiser and give away 15 $1,000 college scholarships each year to high school seniors.
Breaking in a new palace
Mr. Janosik had big plans to open a new furniture gallery in Dover around 2004 or 2005.
However, the declining economy forced him to change those plans and he decided to build his new Laurel store instead.
Mrs. Morrison believes her father would be plenty proud to see how the new store turned out.
The Johnny Janosik World of Furniture and Mattresses actually combines Mr. Janosik’s two previous showrooms in Dover under one roof. Those two stores, which were located at 2230 and 2231 on South DuPont Highway, closed on Feb. 16.
“It’s very exciting because now, with two stores combined as one, we have a furniture store and we have a bedding store now all combined,” Mrs. Morrison said. “It’s overwhelming. When people walk in, they’re going to be overwhelmed.”
She said that she hopes interested shoppers circle March 4 on their calendars — that is the date of their official grand opening.
“Our grand opening is March 4 where we’re going to give away a couple of $5,000 shopping sprees, giving away some trips and have some drawings and things like that,” she said. “But we have not even advertised yet and we were so swamped (last week). It’s been wonderful. I think when you walk in here it’s fresh, it’s exciting.”
And it’s huge — something that’s definitely very Janosik.
“I think my dad would be very proud,” Mrs. Morrison said. “This store was one of his dreams. I certainly know that I’m excited about it.”
Delaware State News staff writer Mike Finney can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.