By Bill Hare
The writer appears at JCPenney from its starting in 1902 as a dry items shop, via its upward thrust right into a profitable chain of full-service department shops rivaled purely by way of Sears, Roebuck, to its fall into chapter 11 within the Nineteen Nineties as a result of company bungling
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Additional info for Celebration of Fools: An Inside Look at the Rise and Fall of JCPenney
Mrs. Elsie and another woman were busy with several customers when Mrs. Maynard said, "Mrs. El-sie," in a loud, sing-song voice. "Hello, Mrs. " "We are wait-ting, Mrs. " Mrs. Maynard's friends stifled giggles. "I'll be with you personally in just a minute, Mrs. Maynard," said the department manager. Her other customers scowled in the ladies' direction. No more than 30 seconds went by before another "Mrs. " "Yes, Mrs. Maynard. " The manager's wife's eyes narrowed. " Mrs. Elsie looked desperately at her other customers and said, "I'm sorry," swallowing her voice.
The market is bound to come back. " "We certainly hope so, Mr. Penney. All of us here hope so. " Penney's reply was quite amiable. "But how can you say that, sir? The market will rally, it has to. " "Perhaps," said the attorney, making the word sound as ominous as possible. Penney knowingly held up a forefinger. "Or, my dear fellow, then at least as far as our own stock is concerned. " In this, Penney was actually correct. Even in those disastrous times, the J. C. Penney Company remained well managed and financially strong.
He was particularly struck by three things. The first: Of all the major businesses in the United States, only Penney was rooted in strong ethical core values. The second: Apparently the top men at J. C. Penney were as highly regarded as anyone at General Motors or Standard Oil. And the third: While most J. C. Penney store employees suffered poor wages in return for fringe benefits, from the level of store manager on up the money could be better than at GM or Standard Oil. Batten decided that he was willing to work long hours for low wages in Parkersburg—if, once under the company's wing, he would be free to look for career opportunities lying elsewhere in the Penney world.
Celebration of Fools: An Inside Look at the Rise and Fall of JCPenney by Bill Hare