Can JC Penney Avoid Sears' Fate in Reno?
Long time stores are scrambling to overcome the online shopping boom. In Reno, we just lost Sears at Meadowood. Can Reno’s JC Penney avoid the same outcome?
There’s a change happening in our shopping centers. At Reno’s Meadowood Mall you can see Reno's biggest grave marker. A hallowed name has been taken off the front entrance…just one remains around the corner. Inside, the Sears store is bare.
Sears once was a giant, but another 62 of their stores will shut their doors in the U.S. next month, adding to over 500 closed. They're not alone in facing the e-commerce revolution. JC Penney closed 140 stores last year. In Reno, the Meadowood store has avoided the axe for years, but for how long? JC Penney store manager Mairin Avila says, "At least a hundred more we hope. It's been open since 1978, so I think we've got a lot of good years still."
She told us changes have been made to ensure that: "We started carrying major appliances with competitive offers. It's new to us. And we've gone really heavy into Sephora. That’s a good brand for us."
Just last week, JC Penney corporate announced it was going to focus more on adults, specifically baby boomer moms. They also brought back some preferred brands. Here, their strategy is 'back to the future'. Avila says they’re “bringing back a lot of our core brands like St. Johns Bay, we have A.N.A. A lot of our moms love the A.N.A. brand."
And they’re focusing on what works. 1 in 3 JC Penney customers buy Arizona jeans…it's their most popular brand. So Penneys is pushing it, with social media stars "Brooklyn and Bailey". Avila says, "The young girls are definitely going to recognize them, so that's one of the biggest things. We also have a lot of new fashions and fits." Just in time for back-to-school. Avila says that “will be huge for us. This weekend will be our biggest weekend." Another special for back to school: $10 kids haircuts in their salon.
But more than back-to-school, JC Penney is focused on coming back to life. Mairin knows what's at stake. JC Penney is an American shopping institution. As she puts it, "JC Penney's been around since 1902, so a very long time. We've got a lot of tradition behind us."
If it thrives, it'll be very good news to Don Wadsworth. He spent 34 years in JC Penney corporate management. Today he’s a JC Penney…shopper. His take on fighting the online shopping revolution? "Those that rise above it and address it are still surviving today." Does he think JC Penney will survive? "Absolutely…absolutely"