As general manager of the JCPenney store in the Palestine Mall, I felt compelled to respond to your story, “Penney’s holding up the mall sale, mayor says,” which published on June 19.
Many residents may not be aware that JCPenney has been part of the Palestine community since 1920, when our founder James Cash Penney opened a store on Sycamore Street. The store later relocated to Oak Street in 1957, and then to the Palestine Mall in 1979. We have enjoyed serving the families of Palestine here ever since.
It was disheartening to read that city officials feel as though JCPenney is somehow preventing the growth and development of a city that it’s been part of for nearly a century.
As a retail tenant of the Palestine Mall, JCPenney leases its store from the city. As part of the lease agreement, JCPenney pays a monthly fee to the city – in addition to the base rent – to have the adjoining parking areas and sidewalks regularly maintained. This includes fixing potholes and performing other repairs and maintenance to the parking areas and sidewalks, as well as maintaining landscaped areas.
It is not our intent to make outlandish requests. We are simply asking the city to complete routine maintenance so that we can continue to provide a safe shopping and work environment for our customers and associates.
We employ 30 – 40 sales associates and salon stylists throughout the year – more than half of whom have built a tenured career with the company. Generations of Palestine families have counted on JCPenney for affordable, stylish merchandise.
Next year, we will celebrate our centennial in Palestine.
Like all of Palestine’s longstanding citizens, we want what is best for this area. We have always been, and will continue to remain, open and supportive of any economic development opportunities that position Palestine Mall as an attractive, modern shopping destination.
With the support of local officials, we want to assure every resident that we are committed to Palestine and look forward to being a meaningful part of this community’s heritage.
JCPenney General Manager