A Penney Not Saved

Oh, it’s official–the J.C. Penney store at my nearest mall is going away. The Northgate Shopping Center, which opened in 1950 as one of the country’s first post-war shopping centers, is going through a massive renovation that has no room for the big anchor stores that every successful mall needed. Penney’s is going through the closing process and Macy’s will be right behind it this July. In a few years, the shopping center will be transformed into a mixed-use center with hotels, housing, offices and the headquarters and practice facility for our new N.H.L. expansion team.

The going-out-of-business signs went up a week ago. There are those guys on the street corners, holding up the 50-70% off signs. We decided to go take a look and it was sad. Yes, times change, things come and go, and yes, we scored some great deals. But what we saw when we got there really drove home the point it was going away. You can’t access the downstairs. Where the men’s department and housewares used to be is now where all the shelves and racks are being stored. All the merchandise has been moved upstairs with ‘All Sales Final’ posted prominently everywhere.

I’ve always joked that the two places I only buy clothes are Costco and Penney’s.  That joke has now been cut in half. Penney’s is where my mom went to work, back in the 1960s when women dared to start working outside the home. Since my parents had one vehicle, I remember dad and us kids all piling into the car around 9:30 in our pajamas and then head over and wait outside the employee entrance for when mom got off.

Victoria’s dad was a school teacher, but started working at Penney’s to help supplement the family budget and was one of the first hires of that new Penney’s when it opened in Northgate many years ago. As a retired Penney’s employee, I believe he gets the employee discount for life, as long as he can find a Penney’s store still open.

But now, like so many things of his generation and now, my generation, it’s going away. I have to say, it’s very strange to see things that have been around your entire life just fade off into history. Perhaps it’s just another reminder to appreciate the day and all that is around us. I’m going with that.

Tim Hunter

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