A Lesson on Penney Thrift

General Article

Speaking of jobs and careers, todays entrepreneurs can learn a lot from James Cash Penney.  His very name suggests he was destined to earn money, but the way he went about pursuing his destiny is a lesson to all.  I was surprised to learn that J.C. Penny built his company to maximize jobs for the residents in the towns where his stores were located.  This is no surprise, because it was common to see towns spring up along the path of the first railroad hubs.  He took over one of the stores in the chain of the store owner he worked for at the turn of the century, he had left the small town and had moved his operations to a storefront in Kansas.  Today, not only can you get great deals from J.C. Penney, you can shop the stores online or in person and use a Groupon to save a ton of cash.

J.C. Penney has stores in all 50 states, in Puerto Rico, Mexico and Renner department stores in Brazil.  But the guiding principal behind the start and success of the chain begins humbly in the small town of Kemmerer, Wyoming.  There young James Cash Penney went to work for a local retailer named J.M. Hale who trained him in sales and management.  That experience helped him secure the job that put him on the path to the retail giant he was to become.

Young Penney was an ace student who eventually bought out his other partners to form his own dry goods store, using cash only, against the advice of the bank in town, and started to thrive.  He was soon known for reaching back as he climbed, and opened a 120-acre experimental farming operation in Florida he dubbed Penney Farms, to help farmers who were down on their luck.  He later built a home for retired ministers, community leaders, teachers and workers on a 60-acre plot adjacent to Penney Farms.  He expanded his chain primarily by allowing store managers to become store owners but only after they had a trained sales force and appointed a trained sales manager to take their place.  Creating jobs as the empire expanded was key to success in the community, and he readily acknowledged this. He reached his goal of $1 billion dollars as a cash only business in the late 1950’s, just as he said he would.  It’s a good thing he finally took the advice of his backers who told him it was time to change to a credit system to keep up with the changing economy.  The company did not issue its first store credit cards until late 1957’s, long after others had.

Today, you can shop J.C. Penney’s online and purchase goods using your smart phone.  And you can take advantage of the quality that is still the hallmark of the merchandise they sell by using Groupon codes to save additional dollars off your purchase whether instore or online.