Great Bend will soon lose its JCPenney department store at 1500 Kansas Ave.
Last month, J.C. Penney Company Inc. announced plans to close 130-140 stores over the next few months, along with two distribution facilities. On Friday, the list of stores to close was released, and the Great Bend store was on it.
Most stores will begin liquidation sales on April 17 and close in June.
Four other Kansas stores are on the list: in the Hutchinson Mall, Chanute Square shopping center, the Winfield Plaza and a freestanding store in Lawrence.
Shortly after the retailer’s corporate headquarters in Plano, Texas, made the announcement Friday, Yvonne Zink received a call from her daughter in Texas. Zink worked at the JCPenney store in Great Bend for 10 years before retiring in 2016.
“I was really kind of surprised,” Zink said. “It’s the only department store in town, other than Wal-Mart. We have a lot of loyal customers.”
She was also surprised because the heating and cooling system in the building had been upgraded in the past year or two.
Customers enjoy having another shopping option here in town, but the store has also been popular with online shoppers who can pick up their JCPenney orders in Great Bend and avoid shipping charges, she noted.
Employees at the store declined to comment, referring all questions to corporate headquarters.
Over 90 years
JCPenney opened one of its first stores in Kansas in downtown Great Bend on Aug. 25, 1923. The store remained at that location for 43 years until it relocated to 1500 Kansas Ave., with its grand opening held on Nov. 16, 1966.
Marvin R. Ellison, chairman and chief executive officer of J.C. Penney, said the decision to close stores will allow the company to allocate capital more efficiently.
“We understand that closing stores will impact the lives of many hard working associates, which is why we have decided to initiate a voluntary early retirement program for approximately 6,000 eligible associates,” Ellison said.
Associates who will be impacted by the closures will receive separation benefits, which include assistance identifying other employment opportunities and outplacement services such as resume writing and interview preparation.
Anyone who would like to express thoughts on Great Bend’s store closing may call the JCPenney Newsroom, 972-431-3400.