J.C. Penney takes on Manhattan

New York City J.C. Penney Co. on Friday celebrated the grand opening of its first-ever location in Manhattan. The two-level, 150,000-sq.-ft. store is in Manhattan Mall, on Sixth Avenue and 33rd Street. The location is noteworthy: It is just a block from Macy’s famed flagship.

“It’s been a long journey,” said Myron (Mike) Ullman, III, chairman and CEO, J.C. Penney, in remarks at the opening. “This is a big step for J.C. Penney.”

Describing the new store as “state-of-the-art,” Ullman said the space was designed for speed and for customers in a hurry. (For additional photos of the store, click here.)

“This is definitely not your mother’s J.C. Penney,” Ullman added.

Guests at the opening included New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who thanked J.C. Penney for creating 500 new jobs in the city, as well as “the wealth of shopping opportunities for people on a budget.”

The new store reflects J.C. Penney's evolution during the past several years from a dowdy budget retailer to a contemporary-fashion chain that combines affordability with the latest styles. The chain has added exclusive designer apparel, private labels and updated home furnishings from such well-known designers as Nicole Miller, Ralph Lauren and Chris Madden, and in-store Sephora boutiques. Two new exclusive brands -- a home line from Cindy Crawford and a menswear line from Joseph Abboud -- are making their debut in the Manhattan location.

The store is designed to get shoppers in and out quickly and efficiently, with 95 registers, an electronic queuing system that directs customers to available registers and informs them of estimated wait times, and interactive directories. LED-illuminated wayfinding signs throughout the space.

Inside the mall, a three-story lighted J.C. Penney sign and a 7-ft.-by-7-ft. video cube are suspended over the escalators leading down to the store (there is no street-level entrance). Also, six large glass showcase windows on the mall’s main floor are devoted to the retailer.

The interior is bright and colorful, with modern decor elements. J.C. Penney uses a system of floating ceiling panels, which reflect light and provide more height on the sales floor (the ceilings are low throughout). More than 1,000 new merchandise display fixtures were created or customized for the store with an eye towards allowing greater merchandise capacity, and to making the space easy to shop and navigate.

J.C. Penney, which already operates stores in the Bronx, Staten Island and Queens, reportedly expects the new Manhattan store to be its largest sales generator.

For more on J.C. Penney’s Manhattan debut, click here.