Rewriting the Script
Neither Andrzej nor Janina had much time to let the news of the Co-op’s demolition settle before they came up with a plan: a sale.
To be fair, as far as plans went, it wasn’t the most creative – but it was necessary. And, after a quick discussion, Andrzej started to feel like it was long overdue.
“We owe everything to our customers. It would be nice to pay them back.” Janina agreed and together, they quickly set up the biggest sale in Janina’s fourteen-year history.
For four weeks, they worked swiftly, marking down what needed to be moved to the new location and focusing on selling the rest. And every day was busy, as Grande Prairie prepared to say goodbye to this fundamental landmark.
At the end of the four weeks, Andrzej closed the store for the last time. He moved slowly, remembering the day he’d walked into the space, mostly on accident, and saw the previous tenant packing up. Though it was a small space – one they had technically outgrown years ago – it was hard to say goodbye to.
After all, his kids had grown up in this space. His daughter and sons had worked behind the counter. He’d watched his hard work blossom here. He’d watched a collection of twenty-six pieces of jewellery explode into a business, eventually into two locations. And, he’d watched customer after customer leave this space smiling, holding small bags and boxes for loved ones, sometimes for themselves. He’d taken great pride in watching people leave this small shop happy. He would carry that pride to the next location, but he’d miss this one. He’d miss this first home for Janina’s.
One last look. And then, after a few moments, Andrzej turned off the lights and left, moving forward.
Another New Beginning
For years, the Sears Plaza was a great home for Janina’s. But, Andrzej knew it wasn’t the best home. It was tucked away off the main road and, though they still had lots of customers and consistent growth, he always felt like it wasn’t quite right.
Something was missing.
Eventually, he found that something. It started as a simple inquiry. A question was asked about the land for sale near Costco on the west side of Grande Prairie and then Andrzej was standing in front of that empty piece of land. Squinting, he imagined a grand building – one with lots of windows and natural light to catch the gems in the store.
His kids – now grown and involved in the business – encouraged him to buy the property, so he finally build the store that matched his dreams.
He could hear a plane in the distance and thought about how he’d landed in Grande Prairie in the middle of November in the ‘80s, knowing very little English and even less about the future ahead of him. But, he’d remembered looking at Janina and embracing their new life together, whatever came of it.
That’s how simple this decision could be. Every decision that had brought him here had focused on creating a life that his family could be proud of. That he could find pride in.
He’d named the store Janina’s because it was a beautiful name. And it could be a beautiful store, even more beautiful than it already was.
It would be a beautiful store.
He nodded to himself and started walking to his vehicle. It was time to draft new plans, once again, maybe for one final time.
And, Here We Are
In 2015, Janina’s moved again. This location is its current home. The land purchase wasn’t just for their building either: it was for a plaza of buildings. Andrzej hoped that he could build a community of businesses that shared the same pride in their service.
Over the years, Andrzej and his family – not to mention many dedicated employees – have poured their time and hearts into Janina’s. And yet, just like the little boy back in Poland who collected stickers from Canada, Andrzej knows none of this would be possible without a community of people who cared.