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Press: Johnny Janosik New Showroom

Furniture Today

New Janosik flagship dazzles

Clint Engel -- Furniture Today, 11/9/2006 6:21:00 AM

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Johnny Janosik's 180,000-square-foot showroom in Laurel, Del., replaces a store that started in a former chicken house across the street.

LAUREL, Del. -- Delaware powerhouse Johnny Janosik has opened a 180,000-square-foot showroom here, targeting an even bigger share of its bread-and-butter middle market while bidding for a piece of the high end as well.

The Connie Post Cos.-designed store — perhaps the largest in the Northeast — replaces the retailer's 105,000-square-foot flagship, a jumble of connected buildings that grew out of an old chicken house when the now-retired Johnny Janosik, 81, and his wife Mary Louise moved the store here from downtown Laurel in 1978.

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A Tommy Bahama display is part of a new Lexington Home Brands gallery, also featuring Lexington’s Liz Claiborne, Bob Timberlake and Nautica lines.

An additional 40,000 square feet upstairs from the new showroom houses the retailer's new corporate offices.

"It's a night-and-day story," said Frank Gerardi Sr., CEO of the family-owned business, which also operates a two-store campus in Dover, Del. "The other store served us very well, but it certainly was not a state-of-the-art furniture store."

Gerardi wouldn't disclose Janosik's investment but said the retailer pumped "millions and millions" into the new store, and that it's the start of an aggressive expansion plan for the retailer.

Among the new features: a home theater gallery featuring four experience rooms decked out in cinema seating from Berkline, Lane and La-Z-Boy and wall units from Hooker, Lane and Riverside; and galleries for leather upholstery, outdoor furniture and new upscale sources to the retailer including Lexington Home Brands, Stanley, Bernhardt and Century.

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Mac McCall, left, Pennsylvania House; Lori Janosik Morrison, Johnny Janosik; and Richard Feinstein, Pennsylvania House.

One of Janosik's goals is to go after affluent consumers who are drawn to Delaware for the state's tax advantages and other benefits. It's targeting this market with the same philosophy of wide selection and value that has helped the retailer become the dominant player here, with projected sales of more than $50 million this year.

"We feel we have the potential within a couple of years to go to $75 million to $80 million," Gerardi said.

He praised Connie Post and her company for the architectural touches and attention to detail that wowed consumers at the store's grand opening late last month.

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Jim Lynagh, left, Johnny Janosik; Gordon Powers and Doug Bassett, Vaughan-Bassett; Steven Kroll, Cochrane; and Jerry Montini, Palm Springs Rattan.

"It was absolutely crazy," Gerardi said of the Saturday opening. "We figure we had somewhere between 5,000 and 7,000 people. We were shuttling people from a remote parking lot …we wrote some great business."

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Bruce Frenzel, left, Thornwood; and Neda Yousaf, Yousaf Marketing.

The store features Post-signature backdrops that are mobile and see-through, warm but colorful wall colors in certain galleries, a stacked-stone fireplace in the outdoor furniture area, wide use of lifestyle signage and "contemporary-minded, architectural elements that lend a fashion-forward sense to even the most traditional of furniture displays," Post said.

"There's no dead space. Every single gallery is exposed to the main aisle," she said. "It's a big spankin' showroom, but it's very fluid."

The store in Laurel (population about 3,000) is on the Delmarva Peninsula near the southwest tip of Delaware, a state with a population of less than 1 million. Still, Johnny Janosik has big expansion plans beyond this store. A 28,000-square-foot clearance center next door will be under construction shortly with an expected opening in March, filled with promotional goods that Janosik didn't have room for in the new store.

Six months from now, the retailer will begin work on a much-needed warehouse expansion, which should bring the Laurel distribution center next door to about 700,000 square feet. Relocation of the two Dover stores into one 180,000-square-foot showroom — a duplicate of the Laurel store — is planned for three or four years out.

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A wall of backlit Lane recliners is among the vertical displays that add interest to the new Johnny Janosik store.

Gerardi said that despite Delaware's small population, the state and Maryland's eastern shore are home to resort communities, and the area is becoming a second home and retirement haven.

Janosik makes weekly delivery runs into New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Virginia as well to consumers in Maryland, Delaware and Washington, with New York in its future.

In the past, the store topped out in price with Thomasville, Pennsylvania House and Kincaid. In addition to the new higher-end galleries noted, Janosik also has added Paladin upholstery at the high end and a Capel rug gallery.

Janosik also has bolstered its midpriced lineup, Gerardi said, expanding the offering from some suppliers and adding new ones, including Vaughan-Bassett and University Loft. Thomasville, which Janosik previously operated as a connected, dedicated store, is now a gallery in the new store but the size is the same at about 11,000 square feet.

Three motion upholstery galleries dedicated to key lines La-Z-Boy, Berkline and Lane get big play in the center of the store. Janosik, a pioneer Broyhill gallery dealer, continues that tradition with a large gallery near the main entrance.

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