For 75 years, JC Penny had offices and warehouse headquarters in New York City. However, last Friday the company celebrated the grand opening of their first Manhattan store with the always dapper and welcoming Mayor Bloomberg on hand.
Two of the most successful stores in the company are located in The Bronx and Staten Island. The new store is located in Greeley Square, which is the southern triangle formed by the diagonal intersection of 6th Ave, 33rd Street, and Broadway. The top triangle of this intersection is Herald Square, home of Macy’s.
It might seem a bit much to open a rival store so close to a brand that generations of shoppers have identified with New York City. Macy’s funds the annual Thanksgiving Day Parade, and its original wooden escalators have delighted tourists ever since they replaced the stairs. But in most of America, Macy’s and JC Penny are likely to share the same parking lot.
There was much buzz in the tweetosphere about why JC Penney’s is opening a store in New York City now, after taking 107 years to get around to it. Is Midtown becoming too middle-American? Is this, as the Mayor put it, “A vote of confidence in the city and its people?” Or is this just another clothing store in the biggest shopping destination in the world?
The strange part of the opening was standing amongst all the other intrepid fashion reporters at 9:30 in the morning. Normally, we are used to being ushered into some delightful spot later in the day, and plied with cheap white wine before we sit and watch beautiful women walk the runway. Instead, we were standing in a mall while people commuted past us (and frequently into us). We struggled to hear the very charming and prideful speech of the CEO, Mike Ullman, which he read while standing on a running segway next to mayor Bloomberg, who was maybe trying not to laugh.
15,000 people applied for positions in the store and only 500 were accepted, which means there are 14,500 shoplifters in the city with a motive.
The store donated $100,000 from the JC Penney’s After School Fund to the Mayors Fund to Advance New York City, which provides great activities that don’t involve any shoplifting.
Bloomberg introduced the fashion show and joked about how he was not invited to participate in it. I can’t imagine any of the intrepid fashion reporters in our small VIP bundle would have much to say about the styles on display. I will refrain from commenting on the designs. All you need to know is that everything looked like something you would find at JC Penney’s.
Michele Bohbot, designer for Bisou Bisou, was there to celebrate her exclusive collection as was Nicole Miller, whose Nicole line will be sold in the store. One lucky little kid was treated to a shopping spree with Kimora Lee Simmons.
This intrepid fashion reporter was waiting to speak with Ullman and welcome him to the city and he (no joke) took off on his Segway.