The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

August 4, 2012

Wally Kennedy: JC Penney reinvents itself

There so much going on right now it’s hard to know where to begin.

Let’s start with JC Penney at Northpark Mall, which is going through yet another transformation.

A while back, new leadership at the corporate level decided to try a new pricing strategy. It didn’t go over well. For me, as a long-time JC Penney shopper, it really didn’t make much difference. I would shop at the store no matter what the pricing strategy is.

The pricing strategy involved three tiers — everyday low price, monthlong sales and best price, which was essentially clearance. That has evolved into a two-tier strategy of everyday low price and clearance.

What’s really changed is the company’s approach to branding. Nearly 700 JC Penney stores nationwide are renovating to make room for three innovative brand shops dedicated to Levi’s, The Original Arizona Jean Co. and i jeans by Buffalo. This is just in time for back-to-school shopping.

Our store has new Arizona and Levi shops upstairs for men and downstairs for women. The i jeans by Buffalo shops are still in the development phase. Eventually, two more brand shops — Liz Claiborne for women and the JC Penney shop — will be available. This is only the beginning of the remodeling.

In addition, all JC Penney salons are offering free haircuts for students in kindergarten through grade six through the end of this month. More than 160,000 free haircut appointments have been booked to date nationwide. The participation rate at the Joplin salon, so far, has been very high.

Also, Missouri’s “tax free’’ holiday for certain back-to-school purchases kicked off on Friday and continues through today at the store.

An innovative program at JC Penney will permit shoppers to give back while they shop. Customers can round up their purchases in August to the nearest whole dollar and donate the difference to select causes as part of the company’s new charitable giving program, JCP Cares. Donations in August will benefit 4-H and the Boys & Girls Clubs of America.

I’m getting this information from Matt Mueller, who was named manager of the store about a year ago. To say he’s got his hands full right now is the epitome of understatement. But, it’s also exciting to see one of the oldest retail entities in Joplin reinvent itself for a new generation of shoppers.

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