SHOP PENN Get To Know: Hello World's J. Lamancuso

SHOP PENN is more than a destination for an eclectic mix of shops and restaurants set in a uniquely beautiful university setting but also includes a dynamic group of owners and operators who pour their heart and soul into these businesses. In this new series, we will be introducing you to an active member of the SHOP PENN family through our Q&A spotlight.

Hello World is the go-to spot in the district for unique furniture, home accessories, jewelry, cards, and gifts for all ages.  A Philly favorite with numerous “Best of Philly” awards, the shop is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year! In University City, you can usually find owner J. Lamancuso behind the counter chatting with customers and helping them find the perfect gift. We were excited to sit down with J. and talk to him about his business and his love of art and design. 

Q) How long have you run Hello World?

We are celebrating our 20th anniversary this year. I was in big box retail selling furniture and did a lot of interior design work before I quit and opened my first store in Center City in a small 400-square foot corner shop. At our peak, we had four stores, but as I saw the future of brick and mortar retail, we started to consolidate. We moved from Center City to our current location six years ago. We really loved the idea of being in an area that is alive with business during the day.

Q) How did you get started and what led you to where you are today?

I have multiple degrees in design and fine arts. I enjoyed it very much, but at some point, I needed to make a living. I choose retail because I love to surround myself with beautiful designs every day. I come from a long line of small business people, so it’s sort of in my blood. I am also a people person and love the daily interactions.

Q) What motivates you to do what you do?

My motivation really comes from being able to be in this environment with other people who appreciate what I like and enjoy. I love being able to share my passion with other like-minded people who enjoy beautiful design.

Q) What do you find to be the most rewarding part about your job? The most challenging?

The most rewarding part is when people walk through the door and thank me for being here. I love when a customer tells me that they knew they would find what they needed in my store. The most challenging part is making sure the store always has enough variety to be successful at that. Over the years, I have learned how to figure out what it is my customers will be looking for.

Q) Do you have any key mentors or people who have deeply influenced you?

My dad was a hairdresser for 50 years. He was a small business owner, and I always admired his work ethic. He has always been my compass and driving force, and I try to work as hard as he did. He was also a very talented artist and a big reason why I began studying art in the first place.

Q) How would people in your life describe you?

I’d like to think that people would describe me as creative and passionate about whatever I put my mind to. Once I choose to do something, I am fully committed to it.

Q) What is your proudest accomplishment?

My business and my marriage to my partner of 25 years. Being able to do both simultaneously is not easy. A lot of times peoples’ careers get in the way, and I have always worked to make sure there is some balance between the two.

Q) What is your favorite thing about Philadelphia?

Hands down it is the cultural aspect of this city. All the art museums and galleries all over the place. And, not trying to sound corny, but I love the people. I love to talk with them and find out about their lives. The people in this city are amazing.

Childhood Nickname: JJ
Place You Most Want To Travel: China
SHOP PENN Business You Frequent(Besides Your Own): Spread Bagelry
Favorite Holiday: Mother’s Day
Best Gift You Ever Received: My Father’s Paintings
Favorite Spot to Getaway in the District: ICA
Early Riser or Night Owl: Early Riser
Favorite Thing To Do In Your Free Time: Work in my art studio in the Pocono mountains
Popular Trend You Follow: Social Distancing :(

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