If something needs to be done, Jody Levchuk will do it. Jody, who owns and operates the Jilly’s family of stores on the OC Boardwalk, knows every job that needs to be done in his businesses. He expects his employees will learn from him so that they can step in if needed. Jilly’s is a family business.
Jody’s favorite job?
Being a cashier at the French Fry Factory.
He’s done everything else imaginable, including wearing the Fry Guy mascot costume. He, along with the Jilly’s family of shops, always seems to be growing in one way or another. The newly elected city council member always seems to be thinking of a new concept to try; a new way to grow.And it’s working… Jilly’s is going strong, beginning 40 years ago with a middle-of-winter purchase.
“My family was always in the amusement business,” said Jody.
This family business was outside of Ocean City, but when Jody’s parents were looking to start their own, they came to the island. In 1976, they purchased Jilly’s Arcade. Jilly’s has expanded since then, most recently adding the Candy Factory in 2018. There are currently seven stores on the Boardwalk bearing their name – Jilly’s Arcade, Jilly’s French Fry Factory, Jilly’s T-Shirt Factory (three locations), Jilly’s Ice Cream Factory, and Jilly’s Candy Factory.
New for 2020? An expanded T-Shirt Factory, as well as an updated mural.
“We worked really hard to build the T-Shirt Factory name,” said Jody.
This past winter, Jilly’s made the decision to close their Dollar Store. The store started as the 99 cent store in 1995; his parents built it from the ground up. It was later renamed The Dollar Store… and had everything inside for sale for one dollar.
Now, that space is an expanded Jilly’s T-Shirt Factory. The T-Shirt Factory sells already made shirts, but also can produce custom tees for an individual, group, business, or organization. Anything you might want to say? The team at Jilly’s can put it on a tee.
The wall that separated the T-Shirt Factory and the Dollar Store is gone, knocked away to create a larger space with a new doorway that leads to the walkway going into Playland’s Castaway Cove. There are new tables with umbrellas, giving guests a place to relax and take in the new mural.
I met with Jody and his Doberman Moses, in his office to discuss the colorful painting that was placed aside of the store’s exterior wall. He rolled out a long piece of paper depicting the image. The first thing he told me about was his family. All their names appear in the mural at least once. His mom, Jill, can be seen on the balcony of Jilly’s Arcade with a pair of binoculars. His daughters’ names are on fictitious businesses, as are many other members of his family. The four family dogs are in the mural too- Sugar (boxer), Moses (doberman), Mitzi (malti-poo) and Spicy (chihuahua).
The mural, drawn by local artist Aaron “Bogy” Bogushefsky, has inside family elements, and tons of Ocean City features, like Johnson’s Popcorn and Old Time Photos – two other classic Boardwalk businesses.
Back in the day, people dressed as mummies walked on top of the arcade at Playland, where the pirate and parrot are now. Those mummies are in the mural.
Next time you’re on the Boards with your family, see how many things you recognize.
Ultimately, like Ocean City and the Jilly’s stores, the mural is all about family.
Jody considers it a privilege to work with his.
“We all pitch in, but we have our own wheelhouse,” he said.
Jody typically starts his day making breakfast for his daughters and reviewing his emails, creating an agenda for the day. His days are more or less the same, depending on what’s going on. There’s paperwork, time spent with his employees and helping with shipments.
“We (Our family) deal with each other a whole lot. There’s nothing better, and there’s nothing worse,” Jody said. ”There’s nothing else that I’d rather do.”