Topic: Retail Sales

J.C. Penney's Was The Golden Rule Store

By Bob Phibbs

J.C. Penney was founded on the Golden Rule which pretty much means treat your customer like you'd want to be treated.

When I moved to Long Beach, California thirty years ago, I needed drapes. I went to J.C. Penney’s where an elderly lady came over. Instead of just pointing me to the ready-mades, she took the time to ask the right questions. It was customer service.

When she realized I knew nothing about my windows, she politely and carefully showed me how to measure them. Next she showed me some of the products they had. I thanked her, returned home and came back with the measurements.She continued to guide my choices.

Afterwards, I went to the management office to offer my compliments for her gold star service. The manager said, “Oh yes, she’s been cited many times over the years for her excellent customer service.”

When I moved to New York a few years ago, I needed some ready-made drapes for a bedroom window. I went to Penney's one Saturday at the start of a big sale - by mistake. I figured I was in doorbuster hell. While the four saleswomen were all busy with customers, several of us patiently waited.

Why? Because they continually checked in with us that they would be with us shortly. One woman got on the phone to ask management for someone to ring. They arrived within 10 minutes.

Another politely excused herself from helping custom orders to quickly get shoppers on their way. All with a smile on their faces.

After I got home I ordered an additional item online. It came in wrong – my fault. The people on the line couldn’t have been nicer and more helpful.

The attitude of service is what embodied both of my J.C. Penney experiences.

J.C. Penney’s was built on customer service.

The original name for the store that started Penney in the dry goods business was The Golden Rule Store. According to this site, said Penney, "To me the sign on the store was much more than a trade name. We took our slogan "Golden Rule Store" with strict literalness. Our idea was to make money and build business through serving the community with fair dealing. Having made the point of a new store by opening up at sunrise on the first day, we then settled on an opening of 7 a.m. Closing time was when no more people in the streets seemed to be heading for the store. Saturday nights, that meant at least midnight. We couldn't make perpetual-motion machines of ourselves and on Sunday opened the store at 9 a.m."

Penney's had a focus that they were truly there to serve the customer in the way the customer wanted to be served.

Tomorrow, an update on the J.C. Penney story...

What was your experience with Penney's like before 2012? Please enter in the comments below...

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