Insights from JCPenney’s NYC grand opening

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Today marks the official grand opening of the first-ever J.C. Penney store in Manhattan. The 153,000 sq. ft. two-level store is located in the Manhattan Mall at 33rd Street and 6th Avenue.

On hand for opening day festivities were the Honorable Michael R. Bloomberg, Mayor of the City of New York and J.C. Penney Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Myron E. (Mike) Ullman III. Ullman pointed out that it has been a long journey to the “fashion capital of the world” – some 107 years to be precise — but he considers the store to be a shining example of the “style, quality and affordability” that J.C. Penney embodies.

Ullman described the technology that powers the Manhattan store as state-of-the-art, noting the unique approach to checkout set up here. Shoppers queue up in one line and are directed to multiple registers, thus speeding up the process. As Ullman points out, it’s intended to suit New Yorkers busy, “get in, get out and get it done” lifestyle.

The store is staffed by approximately 500 associates and is jam-packed with merchandise from well-known national brands including Levi’s, Dockers, Liz & Co. Carters and Kitchen Aid. J.C. Penney’s exclusive brands including Arizona, St. John’s Bay, Decree, Fabulousity and American Living are also on hand and the Sephora shop, which is housed inside numerous J.C. Penney stores, is showcased here with a larger than usual footprint.

“This is not your mother’s J.C. Penney,” said Ullman, who added, “We’ve come here to compete and to earn your business with a compelling offering and a commitment to customer service.”

It was J.C. Penney’s commitment to New York City that had Mayor Bloomberg beaming. Describing the retailer as a “legendary American merchant” he welcomed them to the neighborhood. “This represents an opportunity for people on a budget to shop here and it arrives at a time when we need it most,” said Bloomberg. “I consider this a vote of confidence in our city’s future and a clear sign that the five borough economic opportunity plan is working.”

Bloomberg also thanked the retailer for a $100,000 donation made by the J.C. Penney Afterschool Fund to the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City. The donation will establish the J.C. Penney sponsored After-School Arts Partnership as a means to provide children in afterschool programs with greater access to New York City’s cultural offerings. The JCPenney Afterschool Fund also donated $50,000 to The After-school Corporation, a nonprofit organization that advocates for comprehensive afterschool programs in NYC and across the nation.

Capping the grand opening ceremony was a brief fashion show featuring a little taste of the fashions that awaited shoppers in every department. Then shoppers were invited to take the escalator down one level to the begin shopping in new store.

For J.C. Penney shoppers accustomed to the wide open spaces of the retailers’ suburban mall stores, the space feels more intimate. The ceilings are low and the merchandise is packed on t-stands, tables and shelves creating an energy that is unique to Manhattan. It didn’t take long for shoppers to begin rifling through the racks, asking questions and queuing up to make their purchases.

Kimora Lee Simmons was on hand to welcome and assist more than 40 children representing the Children’s Aid Society who received a $100 JCPenney gift card to be used for a back-to-school shopping spree.

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