History of Just Great Values
Just Great Values is a small family-owned and operated business. In the late 1990’s our family began developing a small business that my younger sister, Krista, and I (Gina) could manage. At the time, my dad was working from home as a computer programmer/real-estate appraiser and both my sister and I were being homeschooled for high school. Working together with our dad in these various enterprises (we both received our appraisal licenses, etc.) was hands-on learning for our business/financial classes in high school and even helped me earn credits in college.
One of the ventures that arose out of our experiment was PilesOfPillows.com, an online retail store carrying hundreds of decorative pillows for the home. It did very well at first; however, by the time I graduated college in 2006 (and up through 2010), the computer programming, real-estate appraising, and decorative pillow markets had all but collapsed. My dad’s previous computer work was going overseas, our appraisal leads dried up because of government intrusion and more than half of our pillow suppliers went out of business. Times were hard.
However, God had always provided for us, and we knew He would continue to do so. About that time, the beanbag game (cornhole) was gaining popularity in the Chicagoland area. After conducting market research in our area, I determined that there was an over-abundance of local board makers (mostly retired woodworkers or out-of-work dads) but a scarcity of people sewing beanbags.
Thus, within a few weeks – after long hours of procuring supplies, cutting fabric, sewing, filling and closing beanbags – we opened up shop with 22 different colors of bags and what we thought was enough stock to get us through the summer. Within a week it was all sold out. Customers loved the quality of our beanbags and soon began asking us to make boards for them as well. So my dad got to work in the garage building boards while my mom, sister and I had an assembly line going for bag production. Even my grandparents chipped in!
By 2007 business was booming and we started getting calls from around the country (and the world!) wanting to know if we would ship our beanbags. So we added these “toss pillows” to the PilesOfPillows site. That same year the concept for cornhole lights arrived and not long after that we discovered the ScoreTower line of products – further adding to our corn hole lineup.
We loved working together as a family, meeting thousands of cornhole players from around the world and being able to support the Feed My Starving Children Organization through our sales and advertising. However, after several years of production, we were burnt out, and it began to feel like we were running a sweatshop. A lot had changed in our family too.
Between 2010 and 2011, my sister got married, and my parents and I moved to North Carolina where we built our house and started designing a forest garden farm (a form of permaculture). Before we moved, we closed the board and bag making “divisions” of PilesOfPillows.com but continued to sell the cornhole lights and scoreboards online. Customers who loved our products were asking for us to expand the line, so in 2012 we changed PilesOfPillows.com to JustGreatValues.com and began carrying numerous other products for the house and home.
For three years these new categories (such as kitchen and camping supplies) did very well. However, a lot of changes took place in the online retail world in 2014, and we once again faced some big decisions. As a result, we have brought the business back around to a sole cornhole focus. Today, we carry everything from boards and bags to lights and sound machines.
For the first time, we are no longer processing and shipping orders ourselves but are rather “outsourcing” these tasks to our new cornhole partner, AJJ, as of February 2015. AJJ’s 17,000 square foot manufacturing and shipping facility enables them to process our orders quickly and efficiently. This leaves us time to focus on marketing the cornhole products, maintaining the site and communicating with you!
I guess I should say “me” now as these changes have also reduced our hands-on tasks, so the time involved to run the site is primarily handled by myself. However, if you call or email with questions, you may still get a chance to talk with Mark or Linda. We don’t know where Just Great Values will go in the coming years (God willing). Nevertheless, we are proud to promote products that strengthen the family and continue to support nonprofits like Feed My Starving Children.
Ferguson Family Favorites
We put this page together because many of you wanted to know more about our family. Well, here is a way to get to know us better through some of our favorite things:
We thoroughly enjoy period dramas based on some of the world’s best classic literature! Listed here are a few of our favorites. (We know many of these have multiple versions available, so we have tried to distinguish which version we like best.)
North & South (4 hour BBC miniseries directed by Andrew Davies based on the novel by Elizabeth Gaskell), Pride & Prejudice (5 hour BBC and A&E adaptation based on the novel by Jane Austen), Little Dorrit (7.5 hour BBC miniseries based on the novel by Charles Dickens), Anne of Green Gables and Anne of Avonlea (The 4 hour PBS adaptations based on the novels by Lucy Maud Montgomery), Wives & Daughters (5 hour BBC miniseries based on the novel by Elizabeth Gaskell), Bleak House (8 hour BBC miniseries based on the novel by Charles Dickens) and Horatio Hornblower – The 13 hour long A&E television series based on the novels by C.S. Forrester (we have not read Forrester’s books but have heard that they do not contain the same level of chivalry as the movies).
Other movies we have really enjoyed:
The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, Facing the Giants, Fireproof, Courageous, Seven Days in Utopia, Amazing Grace, The Love Comes Softly series and The Ultimate Gift.
The Bible – Only God could write a book that can be so pertinent to our lives and teach us new truths every day!
Any of G.A. Henty’s 70 historical fiction novels such as Beric the Briton or A Knight of the White Cross.
Any of the classic novels listed above under movies (with the exception of the stories by Forrester).
All works by C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien. We probably read through the Chronicles of Narnia series a dozen times growing up and the Screwtape Letters is an amazing book for older readers!
Stepping Heavenward by Elizabeth Prentiss
Biographies – We absolutely love reading biographies and autobiographies about the lives of great men and women through history. Listed here are a few of our favorites: If I Perish by Esther Ahn Kim, Rees Howells: Intercessor by Norman Grubb, The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom, A Tramp for the Lord by Corrie Ten Boom, George Muller of Bristol by Arthur Tappan Pierson, Tortured for Christ by Richard Wurmbrand, The Pastor’s Wife by Sabina Wurmbrand, Foxes Book of Martyrs by John Foxe, Great Women of the Christian Faith by Edith Deen, They Found the Secret by V. Raymond Edmond, and Of Whom the World Was Not Worthy by Marie Chapian
Favorite (Indoor) Toys
Hands down that would have to be Lego! When we were young, finances were tight, and we didn’t have many toys. However, my mom heard about Lego bricks and scored a huge box of them at a garage sale for $20. Over the years our parents and grandparents continued to add to the collection. Our parents told us we could have any toy in the world that we wanted – we just had to build it out of Lego.
Every Friday we had “family Lego building night.” There were times we built creations that stayed on display around the house for months, like the Thanksgiving we created a Mr. and Mrs. Pilgrim. Lego helped us expand our creativity and imagination and we still occasionally love to get our Legos out and build with them. On the Lego website, under customer service, free directions are now included for almost all of their sets!
Favorite Outdoor Activities
Cornhole – Of course, we couldn’t not include cornhole! This beanbag board game is a fun, safe game for all ages. It is inexpensive (you can make your own if you want) and creates endless laughter and lasting memories. We usually play doubles and switch partners every game to keep things fresh and fun. We especially love the cornhole lights too!
Hiking – We love to get out and hike or walk and soak in God’s beautiful creation. Some of our favorite places to visit are state and national parks. In most cases, there are at least one or two parks within an easy drive of most homes in the US – with many states having 50 or more state parks. You may visit stateparks.com/usa.html#findPark for more information on a park near you. Of course, there are other, more demanding options available too. On one of our family’s most memorable trips, we completed a trek across New Zealand – from the Pacific Ocean to the Tasman Sea – and also climbed Mt. Maunganui.
Other Favorites: Fellowship
God created us as relational beings. You’ve probably heard that the two greatest commandments are to love the Lord your God with all of your heart, soul, mind, and strength; and to love your neighbor as yourself. For us, Christ’s death on the cross brings an entirely new meaning to the concept of love and over time changes the way we relate to one another.
Within our family, we cherish times of fellowship and spurring each other on towards deeper intimacy with our loving Creator. More often than not we have lively discussions around the dinner table or while driving in the car. When we have more time, we like to read a book together or listen to a tape and then discuss it (sometimes even while playing beanbags!).
However, we also cherish our fellowship with others in our church family. Our multi-generational Sunday School class ranges in age from 20’s to 60’s and is a fantastic mix of people. Sunday mornings seem to fly by way too fast. Some of our favorite times during the week are meeting with others for meals, Bible studies, volunteer activities or just good ‘ol plain fun! It’s The Story from the video below that, for us, makes life so fulfilling…
One Last Great Favorite: Giving!
Not everyone believes “it is better to give than to receive,” but our family has definitely seen the truth in this statement. When we are not giving to a particular cause, we are having fun deciding what to give to next. Sometimes giving is in the form of money or physical “presents” other times it is in the form of time or prayer.
Over the years we have had thousands of people come through our home. Sometimes this was for a meal or classes, other times because someone needed a place to stay for a few weeks or months. Our parents taught us early that our time and possessions are not ours, but God’s, and they are only on loan to us for a while.
Besides working at soup kitchens, visiting nursing homes, working with the terminally ill, and cooking meals for people, one of the earlier memories I have is of a shoe drive our community did. There was an orphanage in Romania that was so poor that most of the children had never worn a pair of shoes before. Krista and I checked out all of the shoe stores in our area and found that Famous Footwear had an abundance of clearance shoes. We worked extra “jobs,” saved all of our (minimal) allowance and then went in and talked to the store manager about what we were doing. He cut us a deal, and we were able to buy 80 pairs of shoes! We were just little kids, but we felt like we were “standing on the moon.”
Over time we have learned that when giving locally, it is often best to give anonymously. It keeps our pride from puffing up and allows the receiver to retain their dignity. When giving internationally, we try to work with an established organization in the country – a group that is trusted by the locals and is less likely to have donations “go missing.”
As you have probably seen, two of the non-profits dearest to our hearts are Feed My Starving Children and Gospel for Asia. In addition, we love partnering with Voice of the Martyrs, Angel Tree, Storehouse for Jesus and many others. Gospel for Asia has an excellent Christmas Catalog where you can buy practical gifts for children, widows, and families in third world countries. These items include goats, chickens, blankets, water filters, medical supplies, vocational training, etc. For many years now our family buys these gifts in place of giving each other Christmas gifts. We already have more than we need (obviously, see below), so giving “our” gifts to the worlds poor helps us identify at a deeper level.
According to the US Census Bureau, the 2010 annual median household income nationwide is $49,445. Now, if we take that figure and plug it into the calculator at globalrichlist.com, we find that it puts most Americans in the top 1% of the wealthiest people in the entire world! This is not something we are likely to think about given the fact that we are so often surrounded by others who have even more than we do, yet it is a real and sobering fact none-the-less. Giving, in the right way, CAN make a lasting difference in a person’s life.
Well, that’s the basics of the history and people behind Just Great Values. We hope to get to know you better as we correspond. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us!