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Johnson’s One Stop

GAYS MILLS - I “had” to go to Johnson’s One-Stop in Seneca twice last week.  And when I say “had” to, I mean I “got” to.  Going to Johnson’s is one of life’s little pleasures, for me at least.

It’s a unique institution, this family owned, long-time (begun in 1937) business in the small unincorporated village on the ridge. Pound for pound, Seneca has got more bustle than most towns and a lot of that bustle has to do with Johnson’s. The bold sign on the south end of the long, long building proclaims: ‘We Have What You Need.’  And I’ll be darned if that isn’t just about the truth.

I remember a radio ad I used to hear in college.  It was for a large local hardware store long before big box stores came into existence. The ad went: “If they haven’t got it, and they can’t get it, you didn’t need it in the first place.”  It takes confidence to be in business and that store had it. Johnson’s One-Stop exhibits that confidence too, as well as humble pride in knowing that they can help their loyal customers solve the wide variety of problems that are part of farming, country living and home ownership.

Many years ago, I went to Johnson’s to solve a plumbing problem. Plumbing merely intimidates me, whereas things electrical scare me. I assumed I would be needing to buy a replacement for the faucet and handful of fittings that I carried into the store that day. Jerry Johnson saw me in the plumbing aisle and showed me several ways to solve my problem, none of which was buying a new unit. I learned from the experience and saved some money. A cynic would say that Jerry lost a sale that day, but what he gained was another satisfied and loyal customer.

So I made two trips last week, buying electrical supplies my electrician friend had asked for to complete my new garage/shop/shed.A more experienced fellow could probably have done it in one trip, but as I say, one of life’s little pleasures. I most always have a list when I go to Johnson’s and I most always buy things that are not on the list.

Part of the charm of going to Johnson’s is the people you may run into there. The place is a regular crossroads and serves a large area in central Crawford County. People you see there don’t seem to be in a hurry and are willing to stop and chat. I always allow extra time at Johnson’s for the accidental meetings that occur.

Johnson’s One-Stop is closed on Sundays. Remember when most stores closed on Sundays?Rather than being an inconvenience, being closed is respected and expected by Johnson’s patrons. Having said that, a friend told me the other day that he thought Artie would meet him at the store on a Sunday if it were a real emergency. I wouldn’t be surprised if that were true–if you had a good story about your needs.

A major part of the appeal of Johnson’s is the people who work there. To a person, they are friendly, helpful and knowledgeable about their great store and everything in it.So Artie, Deb J, Debbie A, Gary, Mark, Jim, Niels, Donna, Rob, and all the rest, thank you for helping to keep things working and making a visit to Johnson’s One-Stop such a pleasant experience.