Retail Detail. J.C. Penney Flagship Opening Attended by Designers, Mayor.

August 3, 2009 • Shopping

Models weaing J.C. Penney looks in the store's "mobile windows."

The well-publicized J.C. Penney Manhattan flagship held its grand opening ceremonies on Friday. Originally scheduled to take place in Greenly Square Park, the undesirable weather conditions forced the ceremony into the lobby of Herald Square's Manhattan Mall wherein the store resides. Mayor Bloomberg came to the opening, toting designer Kimora Lee Simmons on his arm and joked about being past the age limit to be considered for US Weekly's Most Stylish Man of the Year (he was a nominee for the title in 2008). Children and adult models walked a makeshift runway in the lobby and after the ceremony, Bloomberg and Simmons led a group of children from the Children's Aid Society—to which Penney's donated $150,000 toward after-school initiatives in the city—pick out back-to-school outfits. Our city has unparalleled shopping,” Mayor Bloomberg said. “This store will
provide an opportunity to our economy. We’re getting a vote of
confidence when we need it the most.”

Penney’s chairman and chief executive officer Myron E. “Mike” Ullman seemed to agree, noting in interviews following the ceremony that the retailer, known in the not so distant past for its drab and generic merchandise, has received a serious style overhaul. “We’re definitely not your mother’s J.C. Penney,” he said of the
flagship. “We’ve come to
compete vigorously for [the city's] business. Customers are surprised by our
style.” Although the company never held a retail location in Manhattan, the J.C. Penney headquarters were based in the city for 75 of the 107 years the brand has been in existence.

Mayor Bloomberg and Kimora Lee Simmons at the J.C. Penney flagship opening

Another long standing retailer has become the new flagship's neighbor—the well known "Miracle on 34th Street" Macy's. Macy's said to be unruffled by the arrival of the newer chain, claiming their higher end, and seemingly better quality, merchandise would not compromised by Penney's wares. Whether or not that is true remains to be seen, though Ullman seems confident the new store will carve out its niche quickly and wants to maintain a friendly rivalry with Macy's and chairman, president and CEO of Macy’s Inc., Terry Lundgren. “I saw Terry last week and told him that my board of directors comes to
New York in September, " Ullman said, adding that he had invited Lundgren to the opening. "He was very gracious and accepted. We already compete [with Macy’s] in 700 places. They’re great

Designers such as Charlotte Ronson who designs the J.C. Penney exclusive 'I Heart Ronson' line and Michelle Bohbot who makes the also exclusive 'Bisou Biosu' line seem confident in the store's made over image and new, targeted demographic. "This store is a lot newer and updated. It has the vibe. You can kind of
do anything with J.C. Penney. I’m doing buy-now, wear-now, which is
kind of what the world is about," Ronson said, while Bohbot added, " We have to create a lot of buzz. We’ve been telling [Penney’s] about
opening stores in major cities for eight years. Nothing has been done
because the rents were too high. Now, they will be so successful,
they’ll open in cities.” The newly opened flagship is located in Herald Square on Broadway between 32nd and 33rd streets in Manhattan.

Article Source: WWD
Photo Sources: WWD, newyorkmag
-Alia Rajput

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