Where in the USA is the CoCo Locomoto? travel blog

The "mother store" of J C Penney

Artifacts inside the store

Artifacts inside the store

Jame Cash Penney Residence

Dining Room


Living Room

Childs bedroom

Seattle's J C Penney Store the 1st tall store

Talk about nostalgia and a trip back in time. Wending our way north from Utah, we traveled in and out of the states of Wyoming and Idaho and stopped for several hours in Kemmerer, WY the home of the J.C. Penney "mother store" and personal residence. J.C. Penney opened his first store in 1902 in Kemmerer which was called "The Golden Rule." Even though he had a "cash only" policy (which many said would never work in a coal mining town), first day sales were $466.59 (very impressive for those days) and in visiting with people who work at the store now, it is still a good day. Men's suspenders sold for 5 cents and women's sateen petticoats sold for as low as 29 cents. In just 20 years the company had 371 stores in 27 states! And by the time the company celebrated its 25th anniversary sales topped $151 million and in just 50 years sales were over $1 BILLION. In 1931 their first tall store (six-story) was built in Seattle. And even though during the depression, Jame Cash Penney lost his personal fortune, the company continued to grow with net profits totaling over $250 million with a total of 1496 stores. In 1963 the first JCPenney catalog was issued and by 1979 catalog sales alone passed the $1 billion mark. Mr Penney's philosophy was (and the company continues)"quality merchandise, a fair, reasonable profit and training" are the cornerstones to a successful business. And in 2009 J C Penney was voted #1 in customer service. His home was very modest (about 800 sq. ft) and had a total of 8 rooms. It is now a museum and is decorated with period furnishings from 1902. The mother store continues to operate and is one story with a mezzanine. It has many artifacts from those early days and still has the apparatus for sending money up to the office on wires (although it is no longer in use). Even though Mr. Penney died in 1971 at the age of 95, the company continues to be very profitable.

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