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Losing a town fixture: Snohomish’s J.C. Penney store is
on list of store closures, but people don’t want to lose it

SNOHOMISH — The Snohomish J.C. Penney store at 265 Pine Ave. is slated to close by this summer.
The store is among a list of 138 stores the retailer announced earlier this month it was closing, but the Snohomish store is the only one in this state listed to close this spring.
The announcement of the store location’s closure upset people.
There’s been a J.C. Penney in Snohomish for 89 years, since 1928 — longer than most of the public has been alive.
The stores closing will begin liquidating their inventories in
mid-April and shutter by mid-June.
Employees are somber.
“It’s just sad,” a Snohomish employee who didn’t want to be named said about the closure announcement.
Customers keep asking what they can do. Some customers insisted to employees how much they enjoy shopping at the store not only because of its convenience and low prices, but also because they like to walk to the store.
One employee told an inquiring customer that she knows people have been calling or emailing the J.C. Penney corporate offices imploring them to keep the Snohomish store open.
Resident Diane Rogers made a similar plea to the Snohomish City Council at its regular meeting last week on behalf of senior citizens, many of whom she said live nearby and can no longer drive so they like to walk to Penney’s to shop. Rogers encouraged other residents to email the corporate offices of J.C. Penney and ask to keep the Snohomish store open.
According to Fortune Magazine, the 138 store locations being closed are those that generate less than five percent of total annual sales. None of the stores being closed are creating net positive income, the company told CBS Marketwatch.
The standalone 21,000-square-foot J.C. Penney store at Second and Pine ranks in the top five percent of city retail revenue sales tax in the city’s clothing & department store category, said city finance director Debbie Emge, who also charts the city’s sales tax revenue.
“While the loss of the sales tax revenue is disappointing, the city is also concerned about the loss of jobs in our community,” Emge said. “I hope those valued employees will be able to find other opportunities in the city. J.C. Penney’s has been an icon in our community for many years and these decisions greatly impact our residents in many ways in addition to the loss of sales tax revenue.”
The Snohomish J.C. Penney employs 20 people. The retailer is “being fair” to the employees, offering those that choose to stay with the company positions at the Marysville, Alderwood mall or Northgate mall store locations. Pilchuck Landing store manager Julie Burslem-Daily, who has been at the location since 1982, could not offer comment on her store’s closure, but she did say that she loves all her customers.
Legend had it that this particular store provided the highest amount of sales per square foot among J.C. Penneys in Washington state.
“I’m very unhappy about it,” said resident Judy Stuart. “I’m going to miss them. It’s a great little store to have and I’m a regular customer there. I’ll miss the people.”
Resident Kristin Guinasso called it the end of an era.
“I’m going to miss J.C. Penney,” Guinasso said. “It’s such a great place for last-minute gift buying and clothes. Snohomish is not going to be the same without it. It’s an end of an era.”
Mayor Tom Hamilton said he was very disappointed in hearing about the store’s closure.
Newspaper archives say J.C. Penney arrived on First Street in 1928 after it acquired another merchandiser.
It stayed in the 900 block of First Street for decades. It moved to the Pilchuck Landing shopping center in 1977.
The department store chain was founded in 1902 in Wyoming and grew to over 1,000 store locations throughout the country. It grew sizably in the late 1920s through acquisitions.
The retailer has been struggling with sales due to online e-commerce and other factors, but saw a resurgence when it returned its marketing to its roots, resurrecting its campaign that shoppers “Get (their) Penney’s worth.”
Other additions such as joining with Sephora makeup line boosted the bottom line. Last year, the company came back into selling appliances after a 30-year hiatus.
The small Snohomish store didn’t get appliances in the changeup.

— Michael Whitney contributed reporting

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