J.C. Penny celebrates 100 years in Temple

Temple resident Allan Rubino browses through merchandise in 2017 at J.C. Penney in Temple. April 7, 2017, was the company’s 100th anniversary in Temple.

JC Penney — which emerged from bankruptcy this year with its sale to a new owner — plans to close its Temple Mall store and 14 other locations nationwide, the company announced.

The Temple Mall store at 3111 S. 31st St. and other closures in 15 states will occur by the end of March, the company said in a prepared statement.

The closing stores will begin liquidation sales in late December, according to the company.

 “As part of our store optimization strategy that began in June with our financial restructuring, we have made the decision to close an additional 15 stores,” JC Penney said in a statement.

Council member Susan Long was so shocked about JC Penney closing that she banged her head against a table at the Sammons Community Center following Thursday’s Council meeting. The Temple Mall is inside City Council District 3, which Long represents.

“That is terrible. Oh, what a loss. I am so sorry,” Long said.

The Temple Mall closure also was listed on JC Penney’s company blog online as “closing spring 2021.” The closures were first reported by USA Today.

“I really had hoped that when they brought Sephora (personal care and beauty products) in, they would be able to rebound a bit,” Council member Jessica Walker said. “A lot of Temple residents are going to be really sad to see this.”

The closure will also affect area residents who come to Temple to shop specifically at JC Penney, Long said.

“People come from all over for Penney’s,” Long said.

The JC Penney store at Killeen Mall, 2100 S. WS Young Drive, will remain open.

The local closure will leave one major retailer — Dillard’s — at Temple Mall. The city of Temple has started rezoning the mall property to allow a combination of retail businesses and residential units. The Temple City Council has given its initial OK for Today’s Car Wash to build a facility on the property.

JC Penney has a long history — more than 100 years — in Temple. The company’s Store No. 163 opened April 7, 1917, at 20 S. Main St. in downtown Temple before moved to the mall decades later, according to Telegram archives.

“They have been a staple in Temple for years,” said Walker, who grew up in Temple and has been a customer for years.

JC Penney emerged from bankruptcy in November after it was purchased by Indianapolis-based Simon Property Group and Brookfield Asset Management Inc, a commercial real estate company that is also the largest shopping mall operator in the country.

“While store closure decisions are never easy,” the retailer said in a statement, “our store optimization strategy is intended to better position JCPenney to drive sustainable, profitable growth. We will continue to operate the majority of our stores and our flagship store, jcp.com, to ensure our valued customers continue to have access to the products and brands they need and want.”

The retailer, one of the nation’s largest chains to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection due to the coronavirus pandemic, said it originally planned to close 242 stores — about 30 percent of its 846 locations.

Other locations slated to close by the end of March 2021 are:

• Alabama: Enterprise Shopping Center, 626 Boll Weevil Circle, Enterprise

• Arizona: Kingman Square Shopping Center, 3127 Stockton Hill Road, Kingman

• Idaho: Silverlake Mall, 200 W. Hanley Ave., Coeur d’Alene

• Illinois: Cross County Mall, 700 Broadway Ave., Mattoon

• Kentucky: Chestnut Hills Mall, 720 N. 12th St., Murray

• Massachusetts: Sturbridge Plaza, 194 Main St., Sturbridge

• Michigan: 43690 Ford Road, Canton

• Missouri: Southern Hills Center, 1414 Southern Hills Center, West Plains

• North Carolina: Windsor Square, 10101 E Independence Blvd., Matthews

• Ohio: Fontaine Plaza, 1710 S. Main St., Bellefontaine

• Pennsylvania: Clarion Mall, 22631 Route 68, Clarion

• South Carolina: Sumter Mall, 1057 Broad St., Sumter

• Vermont: Green Mountain Mall, 1996 Memorial Drive, Saint Johnsbury

• Washington: Sequim Village Shopping Center, 651 W. Washington, Sequim

“Following a comprehensive review of our retail footprint during the restructuring process, JCPenney made the difficult decision to announce more than 170 store closures in 2020,” the retailer said on its blog.

JC Penney said items purchased prior to the start of the liquidation sale may be returned or exchanged throughout the entire liquidation sale at closing stores. Final sales will vary by location, the company said.

JC Penney and Sephora gift cards can be redeemed at select closing locations through the end of the sale event as well as at jcp.com and other open JC Penney stores, according to the retailer.