Some towns fight to hang onto their JC Penney

In March, retail sales saw their largest monthly increase in a year and a half.

JC Penney announced it is laying off 2,000 people and closing 33 poor performing stores. The move is expected to save the company $65 million a year.

One of the stores scheduled to close is in the Butte Plaza Mall in Butte, Mont. The manager of the mall, Alana Ferko, calls the news "devastating…the idea they could ever close never crossed my mind." Twelve full-time employees and 20 part-time employees will lose their job.

Ferko acknowledges the store has had some profitability problems, which is how it was put on the JC Penney store closure list.

"During this the period that they looked at, the national economy was shaky, JC Penney corporate was changing leadership and the philosophy and that affected us negatively," Ferko says.

For now, Ferko and others in the community hope JC Penney will reconsider the closure of the store.

"We are not going to lay down and we're definitely not going to stay down," she says, adding that they have plans for a local campaign, "to show [corporate] how important our local JC Penney is to Butte, Mont., and you know, hopefully, get them to change their mind."

JC Penney has had a presence in the city since 1929 and moved to its current location in 1995. Ferko says it’s a place where grandparents take their grandkids to buy new Easter shoes and she remembers getting her first credit card from JC Penney. 

"It’s a working man’s store. That’s what it was when I was a little girl – it’s been here for generations."

About the author

Kai Ryssdal is the host and senior editor of Marketplace, public radio’s program on business and the economy.

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