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.
LongHorn on the move
Joplin’s new LongHorn Steakhouse will open sometime in December at the northwest corner of 20th Street and Range Line Road.
Todd Burrowes, vice president of operations, said, “Joplin has been on our radar screen for a long time. It is an important growth market for LongHorn. It will be our 14th LongHorn restaurant in Missouri.’’
It’s kind of gutsy for a company to make such an investment in Joplin right after it has been ripped apart by a tornado that has created such anxiety over how well we will recover in the years ahead.
“We believe Joplin is a dynamic and growing community with lots of families. It’s a great place to live with a relatively low unemployment rate. We think it shows good sense to do business there,’’ said Burrowes. “We believe in the area.’’
But, it’s not like Darden Restaurants, the owner of the LongHorn brand, is sticking its neck out all that far. LongHorn has two sister brands here, Olive Garden and Red Lobster, that are two of Joplin’s best restaurants. I say that because they are among the few in town where you have to wait in line to get a table.
The restaurant will employ between 80 and 100 people. Hiring will take place about seven weeks before the opening. Interested applicants can visit and “like” the “Work at LongHorn Steakhouse” Facebook page to learn about hiring details. To apply for a specific position, visit www.longhornsteakhouse.com/employment and click on the “Apply Now!” button.
The management team has been hired. Hope Loehr is the managing partner. She has 20 years of experience. She will be assisted by a Joplin native Zach Johnston, who will be responsible for front-of-restaurant operations.
The general contractor will be Belisle Construction, a long-term partner of Darden’s. Local subcontractors, including Joplin Builders, Commercial Glass & Metal Inc. and Burkhart Construction, will help construct the 6,240-square-foot structure. It will seat 242 people. That’s a lot of steak.
For years, the little building at 2901 S. Main St. was a Dairy Queen. It most recently was a pizza place. The tornado beat it up pretty good, but enough was left standing to bring it back.
Greg Crawford, owner of The Mortgage House and V’s Barbershop, has remodeled it into an office that eventually will be occupied by an accountant.
I would like to nominate Crawford for some kind of medal for going the extra mile for upgrading virtually the entire east side of the 2900 block of Main Street. It’s impressive.
If you have news about something happening on Range Line Road or Main Street, call 417-623-3480, ext. 7250; send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org; or send a fax to Wally Kennedy at 417-623-8598.
There so much going on right now it’s hard to know where to begin.
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