Break out the candles – J.C. Penney turns 100
J.C. Penney was the only department store in Portervillle when Carolyn Kirk was a teen-ager.
“That was about 50 years ago,” Kirk, now a Grass Valley resident, said Friday morning as she shopped in the petite section of the chain’s local branch. “I started shopping here as a teen-ager.”
Kirk and dozens of other shoppers showed up at Pine Creek Shopping Center Friday for a sale to commemorate the 100th anniversary of nationwide department store chain whose stores became a fixture of small-town life.
On April 14, 1902, James Cash Penney opened The Golden Rule dry goods and clothing store in Kemmerer, Wyo. in partnership with his employers, merchants Thomas M. Callahan and William Guy Johnson.
Over the next century, no downtown was complete without a J.C. Penney store. Grass Valley got its downtown store in 1942 at 117 Mill St.
Following a trend reflected in small towns everywhere, the store moved from its downtown location to the outskirts of town – Pine Creek Shopping Center – 13 years ago.
Clare Brown of Nevada City recalled her first J.C. Penney store. In Country Club Centre in Sacramento, she shopped for clothes for her now nearly 55-year-old son. Brown and her husband, Del Brown, came to the Grass Valley store to shop for their newest great-grandson, who will be 1 year old April 20.
“We’re going through several generations of shopping at J.C. Penney’s,” Clare Brown said.
So was Quita Blevins of Grass Valley. “My biggest memory is of spending money for grandkids,” Blevins said. Now she has great-grandchildren to shop for.
Becky Davis, a 20-year J.C. Penney customer, was a starter shopper for children’s clothing, as she wrangled her impatient 21/2-year-old son Collin Davis.
Store manager Dennis Sproviero, who started working for J.C. Penney 32 years ago at the now-defunct downtown Oakland store, braced for the weekend sale to mark the century in business.
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With a 5.9% unemployment rate, Nevada County ranked 12th out of the state’s 58 counties in employment rate last month, according to the latest data released by the state Employment Development Department.