There was no escaping the accordion player.
The Durning String Band member wanted to dance, and if you were anywhere near him as he worked the crowd just inside the reopening Franklin Mills jcpenney store on Friday, he wanted you to dance with him.
The crowd of employees, store executives, guests and waiting shoppers loved it.
The Mummers stoked an audience that was pretty well keyed-up already that morning as the store, closed since last July, reopened. And once the music stopped, speeches and cheering ceased and the folding chairs were put away, there was something important that needed to be done:
Some eager consumers were edging toward the store’s entrance even before a big red ribbon was cut and the opening ceremonies were over. They filled the aisles quickly.
Friends Kathy Farlow and Marisol Azcona, both Far Northeast residents, said they liked the new store.
“It’s beautiful!” Farlow said as she looked at clothes for her children. “It’s totally different.”
Before shoppers were admitted, store manager Michael Brown presented youngsters from the Northeast Frankford Boys and Girls Club with a giant check for $5,000 for their after-school programs.
Spokeswoman Sarah Holland said the department store chain has partnered with the club since 2008. Company policy is to partner with a local organization. Store managers are encouraged to keep up relationships but are free to change every year, Holland said, but Brown chose to stick with the Frankford club.
Penney’s was an outlet at Franklin Mills, but management decided to ditch that part of the department store chain’s business, so stock was sold off and employees were laid off in early July. The site then was refurbished by January so it could start its new life as a full-fledged department store on March 2.
“It’s so much better than before,” Azcona said, “as you can see by the full [shopping] bag.”
The women, who called themselves “walking buddies,” both liked the store’s new brightness and eye-catching displays.
Color is an important element of jcpenney’s new pricing policy. Look for orange this month, said Laura Moyer, merchandise execution manager. When you see orange, that means some special deals, said Dianne Martin, training supervisor. The color will change every month.
There will be monthly specials as well as lower prices every day, Martin said, as well as reduced prices on the first and third Friday of each month.
Another color that’s important is bright red. All employees wear ID badges like necklaces attached to bright red cords. They are very easy to spot if you need help.
The old outlet had 109 employees. One hundred twenty-five will work at the new Penney’s, said Holland.
Many of those who had lost their jobs when it closed are back in the new store, Moyer said, but not all came back.
“It’s a mix of old and new,” she said.
Shoppers had a lot to look at Friday, but one of the more arresting sights was a red-white-and-blue display of the jcpenney logo. It was edible — made of 900 frosted cupcakes. ••