Janet Lynn Woodward Hancock, 59, of Lakeland, founder and co-owner of Anna’s of Lakeland, also known as Anna’s Attic, a community fixture for 25 years, passed away Monday, July 24 in Ellijay, Georgia of breast cancer.
The store, at Lakeside Village, remains open under the leadership of her daughter, Anna; Manager Lori Oswald, a 20-year store veteran; and her husband, Dave.
Hancock earned an accounting degree from Indiana University and worked at multiple Fortune 500 companies including, St. Regis Paper, Motorola and Home Shopping Network before launching her business.
“After Anna was born she wanted to stay home with the baby and work at her own business,” said her husband, Dave. “A lot of people doubted her, even me. But she was utterly tenacious. Three years later, at her urging, I left my job and joined her.”
Her boldness and independence extended beyond work. “She was a dynamic, often contrarian visionary,” Dave Hancock said. “She had our two children at home with midwives and without pain meds. And then she decided we should home school the kids before it became common. People thought we were nuts. Heck, I thought we were nuts.”
Anna’s started as “Hand Made” where crafters showed off their wares. The business consistently evolved, even selling antiques for a short time before hitting on such gift items as Boyds Bears, Yankee Candle, Ty Beanie Babies and Harmony Kingdom. Today, Anna’s sells a variety of gift items including Pandora Jewelry, Swarovski and other one-of-a-kind gifts.
“She loved the store but was rarely there,’’ her husband said. “The people who worked at Anna’s knew she was the driving force of the business. She did the ordering, made the key decisions, and, with her accounting background, had us computerized in the early 90s. She pushed her vision of the store: a place where people could escape, and talk to us even if they didn’t buy anything, in a relaxing, fun atmosphere. That’s why everyone who honors us by coming into the store is greeted.”
Her willingness to make changes allowed the business to survive so long, including the 2008-09 recession, her husband said. The store started with country crafts and evolved into a collectibles destination, then home décor, and later more jewelry and gifts.
A memorial service will be 7 p.m. Friday, July 28 at Lakeland Vineyard Church, 2023 W. Pipkin Rd., Lakeland, FL 33811.