The Sparkling Life of Janis Krantz

Roberto Vazquez
JANIS KRANTZ with Councilman Daryl Supernaw

Janis Krantz was a gem, a jewel, a diamond soul.

You could also say she spent her life in the world of carats. Her daughter, Lauren Gregory told a story, “Since she was a little girl, she was always collecting rocks. Obviously, she loved jewelry, sparkle, rocks, she was fascinated by them.”

When Janis Krantz left us in April of last year, the Long Beach community felt her absence and grief, which her daughter later described, “You’re numb,” before adding, “This world is hurting without her. She did a lot of good things. The day she passed, we came straight from the hospital and we came [to the store] because this is our family, everyone that works here, even if they’re not blood related, and we wanted to tell them in person.”

It’s that type of consideration for others, even during their time of grief, that Jan Krantz would be proud to know her kids displayed.

An Honor of Recognition

On Saturday, Aug. 26, a large group of family, friends and neighbors turned out at J&L Jewelry to witness Mayor Richardson and Councilman Supernaw present both of her children, Lauren Gregory and Josh Krantz with a Legacy Business Award from Long Beach Heritage, the non-profit preservation group, for three decades of outstanding service to the community.

 “It was a great turn-out,” her daughter stated, “She was very unique in the fact she found joy in helping others,” adding, “It was nice to have so many friends and family support, but I think it was very special to have the mayor here and Daryl,” adding, “My mom loved Daryl Supernaw. So, to have something in her honor, especially in the city that she lived, breathed and grew up in, I think that was definitely the icing on the cake for us.”

Councilman Supernaw shared with the Beachcomber the following statement, “Janis Krantz left an incredible legacy of caring, kindness and love of community. It’s certainly appropriate that  J&L Fine Jewelry received the Business Legacy Award from Long Beach Heritage.”

Carrying On a Legacy

As Lauren Gregory spoke with customers, she briefly stepped away to chat with a reporter, never more than a few feet away from the action, never losing track of the business at hand, quietly but absolutely in control.

“I started at 15 with her and worked here for 20 years. Eventually, I moved to San Diego in 2009 but my brother had been working here for 10 years before she passed.”

Saturday’s Trunk Show event marked a return to normalcy in some ways. The trunk shows were a staple at J&L Jewelry and Saturday marked 32 years of putting on these shows, three times a year, allowing vendors and customers to get to know one another, not just do business.

It was classic Janis Krantz.

Lauren pointed at a small buffet of food and shared a story about why that awaited guests.

Many years ago, a thin, older man began visiting the jewelry store, while his wife recuperated at Community Hospital. Over several weeks time, Jan Krantz noticed the man had lost significant weight and realized he wasn’t eating while his wife was hospitalized.

One Friday, Krantz ordered food and invited the thin man to join them.

The following Friday they did it again and invited him back and thus began the idea for Friday lunch buffets, though it didn’t go over well with anyone at first.

What kind of a jewelry store offers customers something to snack on while they shop? The arguments against such an idea were cast aside like fake diamonds and Janis Krantz, being the visionary that she was, shook her head, put her foot down and made it clear to one and all this was her store and this would be how they operated moving forward, period.

“It was the first and only time I heard my mother yell, ‘This is what I want!’ It’s just always been the anti-jewelry, jewelry store,” Lauren Gregory explained, which is precisely how Janis Krantz wanted it.

“We’re carrying on the legacy. It’s hard but we know it’s what she’d want us to do, so we can carry on doing it for that.”

‘People First, Then the Jewelry’

Gregory explained her mother’s philosophy, in business and in life, came early on in her sales career when Krantz realized the power of relationships and her gift for connecting with others.

Perhaps it was her devout faith, perhaps it was her parents and the way they raised her, but Janis Krantz really was about family, friendship and community involvement.

When she was a child, Krantz’ parents helped fund the construction of Our Lady of Refuge church during the postwar economy. Perhaps that experience left an indelible impression upon the young Janis. “She was very strong in her faith.”

Lauren Gregory sees the life lesson her mother’s interaction with clients taught her. “They were building a relationship with her, as a human, and she said, ‘You know what, people are coming here for me’.” Gregory added, “People first, then the jewelry. Jewelry is just the byproduct of the relationship you build with the person on the other side.”

So when she opened J&L Jewelry in 1991 it was with that spirit in mind. “She wanted it to be another home for people. That’s how it was. It ends up being contagious,” Gregory shared.

As the day came to a close, it was obvious that Janis Krantz led a sparkling, loving life filled with purpose and goodness, a life filled with lessons on family, friendship and community. Just ask Councilman Supernaw, who shared a little story. “At the award event, they presented me with a photo of myself and Janis taken during one of my many visits to the store,” adding, “It was an incredibly thoughtful gesture … and the type of kind act that was very reflective of their mom.”

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