At the end of the day, don’t worry about your competition. Worry about your-self. Be your own man and lead your own direction and you will prosper.”
Most corner stores are predictable destinations. Dark, cramped aisles. Dusty shelves filled with even dustier bottles. Not really appealing for most women. They’re meant to be quick stops, not browsing havens, or particularly specialized.
Johnny Mac’s in Wyandotte wants to debunk this stereotype. When you step inside Johnny Mac’s, you’re immediately thrown into a kind of wonderland with wide aisles and brightly-illuminated areas. Each corner you round presents another surprise encounter (new items from all over the world come in daily). It’s 10,000 square feet, big enough to accommodate the shopper wanting to quickly find an item or the browser who likes to read wine bottle descriptions. All are welcome.
Owner, Johnny Jarjosa (AKA Johnny Mac), is working hard to provide something unexpected for every first time visitor as well as an air of familiarity for all returning customers. Jarjosa really wanted to make the store comfortable – and inviting – for women.
“I like to analyze a lot of things when it comes to business,” Jarjosa says. “Women are very big shoppers. They spend a lot of money and make up for 35 percent of the market as far as retail shopping. A lot of women don’t like to go in party stores. They have that misconception: Is it going to be creepy in there? All the windows are covered. It’s not a friendly atmosphere. It’s a one-man one-customer type thing. And some women just don’t feel comfortable that way. That was one of my biggest things – how do I get women to come here?”
According to Jarjosa, you start by providing a clean, well-lit store with clearly-marked items and then wait for the word of mouth to spread. “People say, wow, I think you might have made it too nice,” Jarjosa says. “That was the idea. It’s wide. It’s open. It’s shopable. You’re not rushed. You’re not in a maze. You can come in, get what you want, and leave. You can come in and shop and take your time.”
Jarjosa didn’t simply open a business in Downriver to make money; it’s a family-owned establishment. He grew up in Oakland and moved to Wyandotte about 15 years ago. Currently, he’s a Grosse Ile resident and sits on the Downtown Development Authority (DDA) for the City of Wyandotte.
His father bought the store in 1972, which was originally located on 5th and Pine Streets. When the opportunity presented itself for Jarjosa to take over, he wanted to think really big. He purchased a new building and expanded the space from 1,200 square feet to 10,000.
I wanted my own building,” he says. “I wasn’t necessarily looking for 10,000 square feet. It was a little nerve-racking at first, (but) it gives us an opportunity to stay in business for the next 25 years.”
Johnny Mac’s general clientele ranges from middle age and up. “We don’t take the Bridge Card,” Jarjosa says. “We did next door (previous location). We had more groceries. We moved over here and decided to go in a different direction. We got rid of the food and just concentrated on one major part – and that was alcohol.”
He’s proud of the new direction. Champagne. Wine. Liquor. Check. Yet he also offers brews from all over the world as well as some closer to home.
“Russia, Belgium, Italy, Japan, and Michigan brand beers, which are doing very well for us,” he says. “At the end of the day, don’t worry about your competition. Worry about yourself. Be your own man and lead your own direction and you will prosper.”
The store’s business model is simple: Don’t try to compete with the big stores. Focus on the customers.
“At the end of the day, I’m not a Walmart. I never can be,” Jarjosa says. “So I want to concentrate on what these big chains don’t have. The stuff that I do is low profit. I want to stand out and become a specialty store. Yeah, you could go to Walmart or Costco to get that bottle of wine, but you’re not going to get this bottle of wine.”
Overall, the feedback he’s gotten has been positive. “People walk in, they’ve never seen anything like it,” he says. “My biggest fear was how am I going to fill this place? Our signature is just taking care of customers. The old style of helping your customer to the car, being more personable. It makes them come back. We like catering to our customers. The move was great for us.”
Jarjosa loves Downriver. It’s where he’s raising his kids. He works and plays here. He’s active in the community. “I think Downriver is a great spot,” he says. “You don’t notice until you start looking around. I think once you live Downriver, you don’t leave Downriver. I can’t explain it.”
Johnny Mac’s might have a huge selection, but there’s still the possibility that you might not find exactly what you’re looking for. No problem.
“If it’s something you can’t find, it’s definitely something we can get,” Jarjosa says.
Johnny Mac’s is located at 3312 4th Street at Eureka Rd. For more information please call 734-281-4755 or visit their Facebook page.