Quality for Less

Savings is a Staple at Fornelli’s Discount

Writer / Angela Cornell
Photographer / Tony Straw

Fornelli's DiscountWhen Dennis Fornelli and his wife Ashlee opened up Fornelli’s Discount in August of 2021, in many respects it was the next logical step to expand the closeout and overstock wholesale business he already had.

“My parents had a store so I bought and sold for them,” he explains. “I’ve been buying and selling on and off for the last 20 years.” 

Fornelli has always dealt in bulk wholesale inventory, a system that works well for small-business owners and those who supply inventory. When he looks for products, he tries to find a store that is going out of business or a factory that quit producing a line of products – all of whom would typically rather sell their entire inventory to one person rather than ship to a dozen buyers. On the flip side, smaller businesses and flea-market vendors can’t always buy in large bulk, whether because of a lack of storage space or funds. As the middle man, Fornelli can provide a win-win for all involved.

After helping others with supply and demand, it was only natural that the Fornellis would eventually open their own shop. When the location in Toto, an unincorporated community near North Judson, came up for sale, the Fornellis decided to go for it.

One thing that sets Fornelli’s Discount apart is that they only sell name-brand products. They sell clothing, some of which comes from brands as well-known as Nike, patriotic items, bedding, sports memorabilia, toys, as well as home and garden decor. 

Fornelli’s business philosophy is to maintain a small margin so that the customer can get the best deal possible.

“I believe in selling volume and giving people a low price,” he says. “We have a lot of repeat customers.”

They still offer the wide variety of products that people expect from discount stores.

Fornelli also sells his own line of clothing. His customers love coming in and seeing his latest designs on T-shirts, especially those that have a patriotic, blue-line, firefighter or military theme.

Fornelli's Discount“My background is law enforcement,” he says. “I was a police officer. I always liked wearing police blue-line shirts, so when I was going through the police academy I actually started learning how to screen print and made my own patriotic and blue-line stuff.”

As with all of his inventory, these are sold for less than what is offered at most online stores, typically ranging between $8 and $10. 

So far, the best part about the job – both wholesale inventory and the retail store – has been the people he has met. His passion for people shines through. Each customer is greeted upon walking through the door and the employees know regular customers by name.

“We like to know our people,” Fornelli says. “We want to make it a friendly environment, not like a big-box store where you’re just another customer.”

Fornelli is planning on adding another passion to his building – carnival food. His hope is to open a small in-house, first-responder-themed eatery in March.

“Our big focus is going to be wings and wood-fired pizza,” he says. “I’ve always liked carnival-style food, so we’re going to have corndogs and Chicago dogs – the kind of things that are good to eat but not really good for you, but people love it.” 

Fornelli’s plans for the future don’t end there. He’s planning on purchasing more property in Toto to expand the store sometime in the near future.

“In the five or six months we’ve been in business, we’ve already outgrown our space,” he says. “We’re at 5,500 square feet and looking to build a 50,000-square-foot building.”

Once there, he plans on expanding the inventory even more to include indoor and outdoor furniture, golf carts and a lot more. 

Fornelli’s Discount is located at 3115 South Range Road in North Judson. To keep up with all their latest inventory, visit facebook.com/fornellisdiscount. To contact them directly, call 574-207-5494.

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