Long Grove’s “Man About Town” and someone you should know…
(Article also seen in November issue of Long Grove Living Magazine)
John Kopecky epitomizes the heart and soul of your downtown shopping district. He has worked in Long Grove for 40 years.
John started his “retail career,” as a child, working in his mom’s antique stores. While attending St. Francis de Sales High School, John worked summers and weekends at Long Grove Confectionery. He recalls making $1.80 / hour. He was underage when he started, so his mom had to send a note giving permission for John to work. Laughingly, John shared that after a long weekend, the owner came in and said, “I’m raising your pay $2.20 for your hard work!” He was thrilled! The next morning, John read in the newspaper that the mandatory minimum wage had been raised by the government to $2.20 / hour!
In the 70’s, John worked in an auto body shop, thinking this might be a career path for him. He recalls watching the filming, in Long Grove, of The Blues Brother’s, and meeting “the boys.” In 1980, John left auto body work to go back to what had been the heart and soul of his childhood, retail in Long Grove. Over the years he owned, Treats & Treasures and The Covered Bridge Shop. With a chuckle, he recalls a brother and sister riding their horses, weekly, over the bridge to buy 1 lb. of fudge for their horses. After a while, the horses would come galloping at a “crazy” pace, knowing what was in store for them at John’s place.
1983, John opened The Country House, the oldest emporium in Long Grove with something for everyone…kitchen products, kids items, sports memorabilia, holiday accessories, collectables, hats, walking sticks, and lots more. His shop is a treasure hunt, when you think you’ve seen it all, you find another room to explore!
John’s store is much like John, a treasure hunt: fun, eclectic, (you’ll never know what you might find next), warm and inviting; overflowing with interesting artifacts.
I asked John, “What’s the best thing about Long Grove?” He replied, “The people. Especially the sole proprietors who risk everything to run their own businesses in Long Grove.”
When asked about John…
He’s always upbeat and positive, even on days with low sales. His shop’s name, “Country House” fits him. In one word, I’d describe him as “happy”. I wish he would continue wearing his suspenders. Sue Fanara, Ma & Pa’s Candy
John’s special because of his energy, enthusiasm and love for this village. He’s a fun and crazy kind of guy. He’s always decorating the downtown. I love the way he rides around on his bicycle. Sal Guadagna, The Back Porch
John always has a positive attitude. He’s the man on the bicycle, and he makes things happen. Did you know he was a founder of Long Grove’s Lions Club? He rallies the Lions Club to help the village with all of their festivals! He never lets you down. I wouldn’t change a thing about him, because then he just wouldn’t be John! Randy Towner, Mel’s Marathon & Mini Mart
John would give you the shirt off of his back. He’s easy going, and down to earth. He’s our downtown “go to guy.” I love when he becomes Jake, from the Blues Brothers. He’s so much fun! June Neumann, Viking Treasures
Writer’s note: This article was written on October 10, 2013 the day after John’s father passed away. None of us expected to see John this week. Knowing that Oktoberfest was in 4 days, and was his “baby,” the Events Committee made plans to make it happen during his absence. Amazingly, John appeared in town on the morning of Oct. 10. Amidst his sorrow, John wanted to make sure that the event went off as planned and that the people of Long Grove, wouldn’t be disappointed. We love you John!
He’s someone you’ve got to meet, if you haven’t already!
Submitted by Sharon Fine, LGBCP Director of Community Development