In 1898, James C. Penney found work in a Colorado dry goods store called the “Golden Rule Mercantile Company”. He soon became a partner and in 1902 opened a 1,000 square foot Golden Rule store in Kemmerer, Wyoming. By 1914, the young man had bought out his partners, expanded to more than 30 stores, and moved his headquarters to New York City.
The J.C. Penney Company was listed on the New York Stock Exchange in 1929, operated 773 locations, and refused to do business on credit. When he died in 1971 at age 95, James Penney presided over a behemoth with annual sales of $4 billion.
Rebranded as “JCPenney” in 1974, the retailer grew to over 1,000 stores and total sales of $20 billion at its peak in 2006, second only to Sears in the United States, as the company’s stock price reached a high of $81.
Last Friday, the legendary retailer filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy. The stock closed at 25 cents per share. The temporary shutdown of most of the company’s stores due to…