Last weekend I visited the J.C Penney’s grand opening in
On the good side of the ledger, the store has some nice bells and whistles like the scanner kiosks that allow shoppers to scan the merchandise tickets for sale prices and information. The store was manned with lots of helpful ambassadors to answer questions and direct traffic. Departments and brands were well-delineated and, of course, it had that great clean “new car” feel. Perhaps most importantly for J.C. Penney’s in the short term, the store was packed on a rainy Sunday and people were scooping up the grand opening deals.
And J.C. Penney’s store brands looked good. Some stand-outs were Allen B. by Allen Schwartz, Joe by Joseph Abboud, and American Living. And while I personally struggle with some of Cindy Crawford’s licensing choices, the Cindy Crawford Style for the home line looked good.
On the other side of the ledger, the store suffers tremendously from its subterranean location and feel. They did all they could to design away the negatives, but the reality is that the ceilings are low and the store feels tight. The space seemed to limit their ability to effectively promote their impressive store brands. The merchandise looked like solid, mainstream J.C. Penney’s value with some extra fashion excitement, but instead of a presentation that could have wowed, it just fizzled. If this is the “statement store” and the goal is to challenge Macy’s around the corner, they missed the boat in my opinion. J.C. Penney’s has some brands and merchandise that are a marginal step up, but I hope they take it to the next level and build their great brands into assets that can genuinely build brand loyalty. It’s too great an opportunity to miss out on.