Hope For Retail: JC Penney
Hey, it's Bob Phibbs, the Retail Doc. Thanks for joining me on this special Hope For Retail broadcast. Every day I take a different brand and I share a personal story as a customer from that brand, and the goal is to be a counterpoint to all the doom and gloom out there. Even on a Saturday when I move more casual, and today I've chosen JC Penney.
Now a lot of people say, well, you know, JC Penney has been in trouble for a long time. I get it. They have been. But they still have 850 stores and they still have 95,000 employees as of today. And I get it. They're going through big changes and people talking about bankruptcy and a lot of other things, but make no mistake, this business made its mark as the golden rule store.
And I found that out firsthand. I got my first house back in 1982. That was when I had a lot more hair and I didn't have as much weight. And, I figured I would just go in and I'd get drapes and somebody said, "You always go to JC Penney for drapes." And I was like, "Okay." So I went up to the store in Lakewood, as a matter of fact, up on the second floor.
And I walked up to this older lady or this older lady walked up to me and she said, "Oh, what are your measurements?" I said, "Well, this is how high the room is, and here's how wide the windows are." And she goes, "Well, that's not going to work." And I go, "It's not?" And she said, "Well, let me show you." And she took the time to say, "Well, where's your tape measure ruler?"
I said, "I don't know." So she had one, she showed me on a wall, here's what you need to do for the inside. That's what I need to know, that dimension and I need to know the outside dimension and et cetera. And she was so great. So I went back home, measured, came back up. She was still there, got the perfect drapes for the house, and I said, I've got to reward this woman.
So I walked over and I said, "Is the general manager in?" The receptionist was like, "Well, you know, is there a problem?" And I said, "Well, if I was going to give a compliment would he come?" and she goes, "No, he'd probably only come if there was a complaint." So I said, "Okay, I have a complaint." So the guy came down and I told him about this great experience I had buying drapes and he said, "Oh yeah, that's Jean. Jean has been with us for 20 years. She takes everything personal. In fact, she has gotten every award at the local and the regional and the national level as well." And he kind of made it sound like, you know, this is what she does. And here's the thing.
People don't realize that brands are people. That's what makes us want to go back to you. When we have those stories about buying, when someone went out of their way, when they opened their hearts to say "How can I help you?" That's when the consumer says, "Hey, I found a friend I can trust," and then we open our wallets and so many brands are doing it wrong right now, saying, "Well, if you open your wallet, then we'll be nice to you. Then we'll give you our loyalty points and then we'll give you perks and all of that."
And I'm telling you that at this time, after Covid and as we're dealing with all of this stuff, we've got social distancing and who knows where it's going to all end up. But I refuse to believe department stores are going to be gone.
And at the end of the day, you should be thrilled that JC Penney is in your mall, because if they close, what the hell happens? And again, I go back, we're talking 95,000 employees who are doing it, and if you're a JC Penney employee, I want you to know that there are people out there that still are supporting you, obviously 11 billion in sales last year, but you're going to have to rise up to and meet us with hope, and you're going to have to find a way.
And managers, you're gonna have to rally your troops too, because it's pretty easy. All of the news to end up saying, "Yeah, well, it's a failed brand." It doesn't have to end up like Sears. You still have time to change. We want you to change. I still remember Jean, and that was 40 years ago. So I encourage you, if you're watching this today, share what is your positive story about JC Penney and let's try to get rid of some of the doom and gloom and the what ifs and all of that.
We're all trying to make it better in retail and in small business and large business alike. We don't have the time for the luxury of a bad thought or what if. Let's get to work and let's get back to business. In hope I'm fearless and I'm the Retail Doc. Thanks for joining me today. And if you like this, you can do it too. Just pick a brand you like, share a story and use the hashtag Hope for Retail. I'll see you tomorrow with another brand as well. Bye.
You can hear and read all of my customer stories in my Hope For Retail project below:
• Customer Story Macy's
• Customer Story Neiman Marcus
• Customer Story Hugo Boss
• Customer Story Ted Baker
• Customer Story Nordstrom
• Customer Story Allen Edmonds
• Customer Story Williams-Sonoma
• Customer Story Armani
• Customer Story Harry Rosen
• Customer Story Pottery Barn
• Customer Story Saks
• Customer Story Martin Lawrence Galleries
• Customer Story Wilkes Bashford
• Customer Story Ralph Lauren
• Customer Story Robert Graham
• Customer Story Levi's
• Customer Story Pedego
• Customer Story Garden Centers
• Customer Story Lutron