Getting Down to Business
Business grew for several years. The small space in the basement of the Co-op was home, and Janina’s was integral to this landmark. After years of competitive local business, the store was no longer empty. Now, when you walked in through their doors, you were greeted with shimmering jewellery, sparkling crystals and glass, and a variety of wall clocks. Every once in a while, Andrzej would look around the store, thinking of how to fill it up more, how to make sure no one else could ask, “Is this everything?” ever again.
Originally, that’s why they brought in the wall clocks and the crystal figurines. He’d been to a show in Edmonton and he’d seen a supplier selling these twinkling features. While they were nice pieces, he’d mostly hoped that they would make the store seem fuller, more complete.
And, they did.
As they edged towards their nine-year anniversary, Janina and Andrzej began discussing a new adventure: an expansion. More specifically, a second location.
The Co-op location was huge for visibility. After all, as anyone who called Grande Prairie home in the ’90s can tell you, the basement of the Co-op was a hub: it was where people met for coffee, where people searched for odds and ends, and – sometimes accidentally – where people just ended up at the end of a day in town. Their little shop in that basement was the best place to remain visible and relevant.
But, it was a little shop. And, as far as business went, Janina’s was quickly outgrowing it. The small selection of jewellery that needed to be supplemented with crystal figures and wall clocks had budded into an overflowing store.
And, serendipitously, a larger space in the K-Mart (later renamed the Sears) Plaza had just become available. Andrzej and Janina discussed it. Should they close the Co-op location? Should they keep just one spot? But, as they looked around at their prime spot in downtown Grande Prairie, they knew they needed both.
In fact, they were ready for both.
The plan was to keep one location for mainly goldsmithing. This would give their pieces room to be seen by their customers – and leave Andrzej with more space to complete the goldsmithing.
It was a perfect plan. Actually, it was a perfect reality for about five years.
And then, one day, it wasn’t.
Like A Tonne of Bricks
The basement of the Co-op was the hub of downtown Grande Prairie. It was a place where everyone knew they could get the best homemade pie after a great lunch. You could get a haircut, a new outfit, and you could visit Janina’s for a warm and welcoming jewellery experience.
It felt integral to the city. Which is why when, in the year 2000, Andrzej could barely believe the news when the owner told him.
“We’re demolishing the building.”
“What?” Andrzej knew what the words meant. He just didn’t understand what this person was saying.
“We’re demolishing it.” The owner of the Co-op said it again.
The man stared at him. “All of it.”
Andrzej shook his head. It still didn’t make sense but he tried to catch up with some of his racing thoughts. “Well, how long until you rebuild?”
“It’ll take a bit–” the man began, sighing. Andrzej went into planning mode: how long would they be down to one location? What would this mean for the inventory? He could make it work, of course, but it wasn’t ideal. “–but we aren’t rebuilding the basement.”
Andrzej stared at him. “How do you mean?”
“Well, we’re not rebuilding it. It’s just going to be a grocery store upstairs, and no downstairs. No basement. You’ll have to find a new space.”
“How long until they tear it down?” Andrzej asked. He’d have to get movers, adjust the employee’s schedules, move all of his equipment and furniture – it was a lot. He hoped he had enough time.
“A month,” the owner said. “Let me know if you need anything else.”
The hope for enough time fell around him. It would not be enough time. He needed to talk to Janina. They’d have to figure out something else