Northeast Times

Penney opening hits all the right notes

The Durn­ing String Band gets jc­pen­ney em­ploy­ees in a fest­ive mood dur­ing the Frank­lin Mills store open­ing. FAYE MUR­MAN / TIMES PHOTO

Start­Frag­ment

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:

Shop­ping.

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. ••

You can reach at jloftus@bsmphilly.com.

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