The story of Janna Orkney’s early years can be found in her book, Growing Up With G.I. Joe’s. There, she tells of her growing up in mid-20th century Portland while her father was building and transforming his small war surplus store on the bank of the Columbia Slough into a multi-million dollar retail chain.
Janna was born in Aberdeen, Washington, in 1944 while her father was serving as a bomber pilot in New Guinea in World War II. When he returned to civilian life in 1946, he began selling army surplus on Portland street corners, and soon after, was able to start a small war surplus store in Salem, Oregon. That was the beginning of the involvement of Janna’s family with retail in the Pacific Northwest that lasted for over sixty years.
While Janna was working as a teenager at G.I. Joe’s, she began writing a journal. She found that she liked to write and went on to study at Stanford and at Portland State University. She eventually started Nizam Media, a public relations and advertising business in Lake Oswego in the late 1980s, where she promoted business clients and the Lake Oswego Festival of Arts.
Prior to that, after moving back to the Portland area in the late 1970s, she returned to G.I. Joe’s as manager of the Box Office. That was the ticket sales outlet system that offered entertainment and sports tickets for sale in the Portland area stores. Janna continued with the Box Office for a few years until going back to school to study advertising.
In 1996 Janna moved back to Southern California to be near her three grown children and their families. In 2008, she wrote a quite abbreviated history about her dad starting G.I. Joe’s and of her childhood by the Columbia River and put it online as a blog. Then, in 2012, she decided to expand the material into the book, Growing Up With G.I. Joe’s.
Janna loves being outdoors in all kinds of weather, especially at the beach, and she enjoys interacting with her 11 grandchildren.